European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that Europe would help war-torn Ukraine “as much as possible” when she visited Kyiv for talks on closer integration.
Von der Leyen’s visit coincided with meetings in former Soviet Union Uzbekistan between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his increasingly close ally, Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The two leaders praised their strategic ties with the West in disregard.
Ms von der Leyen’s visit to Ukraine on Thursday, the third since Russia invaded in February, was different.
“The sacrifices Ukrainians are making will never be matched,” she said with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
“But what we can say is that our European friends will be by your side as long as you need them.”
Ms von der Leyen also said she wants Putin to face the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Ukraine.
“It is important to me that Putin has lost this war and that his actions must be confronted,” she told the German news outlet television channel. build.
Arriving in Ukraine, von der Leyen said the meeting with the Ukrainian leader was about “bringing the economy and people closer together”.
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Kyiv won EU candidacy status in June at the same time as former Soviet-era Moldova, which borders Ukraine.
Like its neighbors, Moldova maintains Russian troops in its eastern secession zones.
Zelensky said his country wants to join the European Single Market before a decision is taken on whether to grant Kyiv full EU membership.
The historic candidacy vote angered Moscow, which has sought to maintain its political and military influence in Ukraine and Moldova since the collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years ago.
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Since Moscow invaded Russia by imposing economic sanctions, EU countries have steadfastly supported Ukraine.
Many members of the bloc have supplied Kyiv with advanced weapons, helping Ukrainian forces to retake large swaths of territory in recent weeks.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Thursday that Berlin would provide armored vehicles and rocket-launching systems but not the tanks that Ukraine wanted, promising more weapons.
Shortly before his visit, von der Leyen said the wave of EU sanctions against Russia would continue and Europeans must maintain their resolve against Moscow.
“I want to be clear: the sanctions will continue,” he told the European Parliament.
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The Kremlin claims that Russia weathered the economic penalty and Moscow responded by reducing or completely halting the flow of gas to European countries.
With winter approaching, the EU has been forced to find alternative supplies, agree plans to cut consumption, and introduce financial support amid soaring prices.
Ukraine’s energy plants, including Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhia, have been hit by the Russian strike.
The United Nations Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday asked Russia to withdraw its troops from Zaporizhia, according to diplomats.
Ukrainian forces are making slow but steady advances in the southern Kherson region near the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian president said on Thursday that the military situation was “remaining very difficult” as heavy fighting continued around its southern front.
Local officials in the area around Kryvye Rih, Zelensky’s hometown, reported further Russian strikes on Thursday after attacks damaged a dam and flooded dozens of homes.
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In the eastern Donetsk region, which has been partly controlled by Russia-backed separatists since 2014, shelling has killed two civilians and wounded 13 others.
In the Ukrainian-held town of Bakhmut in Donetsk, the streets were deserted and nearby artillery could be heard in the center of town, AFP reported.
Homes hit by Russian airstrikes during the night were still on fire, with thick smoke billowing up as firefighters battled the blaze.
At a meeting in Uzbekistan, Mr Putin criticized attempts to create a “unipolar world” and praised China’s stance on conflict.
Putin told President Xi Jinping that he “highly appreciates the balanced position of the Chinese friend in connection with the Ukraine crisis.”
Although not explicitly endorsing Russian aggression, Beijing has steadily established economic and strategic ties with Russia during the six months of the war.
Updated: Sep 15, 2022 at 11:15 PM