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European Commission president meets with Zelensky in Ukraine

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv after visiting the town of Bucha on Friday. Photo courtesy of Ursula von der Leyen/Twitter
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv after visiting the town of Bucha on Friday. Photo courtesy of Ursula von der Leyen/Twitter

April 8 (UPI) -- Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv after visiting the town of Bucha on Friday.

Von der Leyen said that the European Union would increase its support to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and presented him with an envelope that contained steps on moving Ukraine toward EU membership.

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Zelensky thanked von der Leyen for the European Union's support of Ukraine during the invasion and for visiting Bucha near Kyiv after civilians were reported Sunday to having been executed as Russian forces retreated.

"The goal is to be in the European Union. The most important thing is that we share the same values. And it is for them that we fight -- for freedom, for the rights of our people," Zelensky said.

"This is a very strong signal that Ukraine and the European Union are together. Together in the struggle for justice, dignity, in the struggle for the value of our lives, the value of human life. This is a confirmation that we will work together."

Von der Leyen previously called for an investigation into Russia for war crimes after the alleged execution of civilians in Bucha.

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"It was important to start my visit in Bucha today. Because in Bucha, our humanity was shattered. And it is right and just that the world voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. This war is a challenge for the entire international community. And this is a decisive moment," von der Leyen said.

"Your fight is our fight. I am here with you in Kyiv today to tell you that Europe is on your side. This is the message, dear Volodymyr, I want to bring to the Ukrainian people today."

Von der Leyen, who traveled to Ukraine by train, also condemned a "despicable" Russian missile strike Friday morning on a train station used to evacuate civilians leaving at least 50 people dead.

"I am appalled by the loss of life and I offer my deep condolences to the families of the victims and all of those who lost loved ones," she said.

Von der Leyen announced that the European Union issued "five waves" of sanctions against Russia and is "already preparing the next wave."

"We are now moving into a system of rolling sanctions. And these sanctions are biting hard. Exports in goods to Russia have fallen almost 71%. Inflation is around 20% -- and rising," von der Leyen said.

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"Business confidence in Russia is at its lowest level since 1995. And the best and brightest minds are leaving the country, together with more than 700 private companies."

The European Union has also allocated 1 billion euros to support the Ukrainian military and "will now propose another 500 million."

"In addition, EU member states are delivering military equipment on an unprecedented scale. Slovakia is a shining example for that," she said. "With this we support the brave Ukrainian soldiers, fighting for Ukraine´s freedom. And for everyone's freedom."

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