President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on February 3 at the 24th European Union-Ukraine summit, the first summit since the start of Russian aggression, and also since Ukraine was granted country status. candidate for EU membership.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at the final press conference of the EU-Ukraine summit, repeatedly reminded about the war, Russia’s attempts to “change the situation at the front in its favor” and the country’s “key” need to get air defense systems from partners to protect against Russian strikes, as well as long-range weapons as soon as possible and tanks to liberate the occupied territory and end the war. Separately, Zelensky spoke about the fierce attacks of Putin’s forces on Bakhmut.
EU Permanent President Charles Michel, in his speech at a press conference after the summit, noted that by holding a meeting in Kyiv, the Europeans show that they do not succumb to “intimidation by the Kremlin” and are determined to support Ukraine until its sovereignty and territorial integrity are restored.
This summit made two things absolutely clear. The first is a message for you and the people of Ukraine. The European Union will support you in every way and for as long as it takes. We are not intimidated by the Kremlin and it will not intimidate us. Because Ukraine and the EU are one family.
And secondly, the future of Ukraine is in the European Union. Ukrainian people, you have made a clear choice in favor of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And we in the EU have also made a clear decision: your future is with us, in our common European Union, your destiny is our destiny.Charles Michel
The head of the European Council said that at the summit with President Zelensky, issues of European integration of Ukraine, financial and military support for the country in its opposition to Russian aggression were discussed. Charles Michel recalled that the total non-military EU assistance allocated or allocated to Kyiv is estimated at €50 billion.
He also confirmed that the Europeans intend to approve the 10th package of sanctions against Russia in February. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, specified that the volume of restrictions under the new package of sanctions against the Russian Federation will amount to 10 billion euros.
Speaking about the problems of post-war reconstruction , Charles Michel reiterated that the European Union is working on the issue of using Russian funds frozen under sanctions to compensate for the damage caused by Putin’s war.
Russia must pay for the restoration of Ukraine. We intend to find ways to use frozen Russian assets to rebuild what Russia has destroyed.Charles Michel
On the issue of war crimes committed by the forces of the aggressor country in Ukraine, Charles Michel noted that the EU fully supports the investigations conducted by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The European Union also supports the creation in The Hague of the International Center for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression in Ukraine (ICPA) “to coordinate the investigation of the crime of aggression against Ukraine, to preserve and store evidence for future trials.” As noted in the final declaration of the EU-Ukraine summit, this center should be linked to the Joint Investigation Team that Ukraine established with six EU countries in March 2022 (the team works in cooperation with the ICC prosecutor and with the support of Eurojust, the EU agency for cooperation between judicial and investigating authorities).
The path of integration into the EU
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference praised the “determination and speed” with which the Ukrainian authorities – in the conditions of war – are working on the reforms that are necessary on the path of the country’s integration into the EU.
Your determination to move forward is impressive. You are taking significant steps towards reforms in order to implement the [EU] recommendations. And we must not forget that you do this by fighting against the aggressor.Ursula von der Leyen
European leaders expressed their full support for the reforms that Ukraine is carrying out in order to achieve the start of official negotiations on joining the European Union. Last June, at the height of the Russian invasion, Ukraine received EU candidate status – along with a list of seven conditions that must be met in order to proceed to the next stage of the procedure. These conditions (reforms) relate to the judiciary, the fight against corruption, de-oligarchization, and the media. The European Commission will give a preliminary assessment of Ukraine’s compliance with these requirements in the spring, followed by a formal written report in the fall.
President Volodymyr Zelensky at the final press conference announced the “irreversibility” of Ukraine’s integration into the EU and the determination to start accession negotiations as soon as possible.
We have already begun work on the preparation of these negotiations. And we are waiting for the relevant decisions of the European Commission and the European Council.The goal is to start negotiations this year.I would say that this is not just an aspiration – it is a goal,
Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed, noting the progress made at the summit on February 3 on the issue of Ukraine’s integration into the internal market of the European Union. According to him, for this, a priority action plan for 2023-2024 was approved for convergence at the level of economic sectors: industry, the agricultural sector, energy, digital services, transport, the financial sector, customs.
+ €500 million: EU steps up military aid to Ukraine
On the eve of the summit, the European Union announced the allocation of an additional 500 million euros of military assistance to Ukraine. These funds are provided from a special European Peace Fund EPF (European Peace Facility). Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the defense needs of Ukraine have already been allocated €3.6 billion from this general EU fund in this way. Taking into account the military assistance provided by individual member countries, the European Union has allocated €12 billion in military assistance to Kyiv.
On February 2, it was also announced the expansion of the work of the EU mission to provide military-technical assistance to Ukraine EUMAM. Within its framework, since November last year, European instructors began training soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The EU has decided to double the number of Ukrainian military personnel who must undergo “individual, collective and specialized training” from 15,000 to 30,000.
The EU also announced the allocation of €25 million for demining work on Ukrainian territory. UN experts call Ukraine one of the most mined countries in the world due to military operations: it is estimated that mines and unexploded ordnance pose a threat to the inhabitants of 40% of the country’s territory.
EU financial assistance
At a press conference on February 3, the head of the European Commission announced a series of emergency measures for Ukraine, whose civilian and energy infrastructure is being targeted by the Russian Federation. “At first Ukraine supplied electricity to the EU, now Ukraine needs electricity. We will supply you with the 2 GW of electricity you need,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
The President of the European Commission announced the provision of 1 billion euros to Ukraine for the urgent restoration of infrastructure.
She recalled that in total, the EU provided Ukraine with non-military assistance in the amount of €50 billion. Of these, €18 billion is macro-financial assistance for the current year to meet the country’s urgent needs. The first tranche of €3 billion was paid in mid-January. From March, €1.5 billion will be transferred monthly.
Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv at the head of a more than representative delegation of the European Commission. The delegation includes the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, as well as five vice-presidents of the European Commission: Margret Vestager, Maros Shefchovich, Valdis Dombrovskis, Vera Yurova, Margaritis Schinas.
Members of the EC responsible for key areas for relations with Ukraine also visited Kyiv: Paolo Gentiloni (economics), Mairead McGuinness (finance), Didier Reynders (justice), Ylva Johansson (internal affairs). The meetings were also attended by European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic.