European leaders back Ukraine for EU membership; Zelensky asks for weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hugs French President Emmanuel Macron in Kyiv, Ukraine on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/UPI
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hugs French President Emmanuel Macron in Kyiv, Ukraine on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- European leaders who traveled to Kyiv said they supported Ukraine's effort to become a member of the European Union, but did not guarantee the stronger weapons it needs to fend off Russia.

As Moscow continued its bombardment to rip the eastern Donbas region from Ukraine, leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania called for membership to integrate Ukraine into western Europe.


"We touched on the theme of diplomatic efforts of various countries to achieve peace," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, according to The New York Times. "Everybody sees the only obstacle to all these efforts is the unreadiness of the Russian Federation for real actions, for real negotiations."

Getting into the European Union, though, is complicated, starting with the agreement of all 27 members and a process that could take up to five years.

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The European Commission on Friday recommended that Ukraine become a membership candidate to join the bloc with the understanding that the war-ravaged country makes important reforms. That recommendation will go to executive leaders next week.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country and rise to the path to full membership.


"Ukraine deserves [the] European perspective," von der Leyen said, according to CNBC. "Yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country. This is on the understanding that good work has been done, but important work also remains to be done."

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Ukraine had hoped for long-range artillery that would help its military fend off Russia, which continued to make territorial gains.

"We expect new supplies, especially heavy weapons, modern rocket artillery and missile defense systems," Zelensky said. "Each batch of supplies saves people's lives. And every day of delays or postponed decisions is an opportunity for the Russian military to kill Ukrainians."

After Russia used considerable resources to capture the key port southern city of Mariupol after three months of bombardment, a city official said it is now "medieval," with running water being delivered in only 2% to 3% of homes.

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Mariupol Mayor Petro Andriushchenko said health concerns are the main issue as the Russian military controls the city.

"The risk of disease spreading is rising day by day," Andriushchenko said, according to CNN. "There is information that people come to doctors with symptoms similar to dysentery or cholera."

The British Defense Ministry said Friday that Moscow continued to attempt to regain momentum on the Popasna axis in an effort to surround Severodonetsk from the south.


"In Russia, the war has accelerated the state's long-term trajectory toward authoritarianism," the ministry said on Twitter. "In recent weeks, the Duma has started the process to introduce a 20-year sentence for Russians who fight against the Russian Federation.

"Speaking out against invasion also is being criminalized. Despite the majority of Russians telling pollsters they support the 'special military operation,' elements of the population both actively and passively demonstrate their opposition."

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