Von der Leyen’s comments came shortly after Brussels announced it would provide some €500 million in lethal weapons and other aid to the Ukrainian military, and would ban Russian-backed media in the EU as well as prohibit Russian aircraft from EU airspace.
“There is strong solidarity with Ukraine. They share our values, they defend our principles. They want to have a peaceful democracy and Russia is attacking that,” von der Leyen told the France-based network.
“We have a process with Ukraine that is, for example, integrating the Ukrainian market into the single market. We have very close cooperation on the energy grid, for example.”
“So many topics where we work very closely together and indeed, over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in,” von der Leyen said.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said on Twitter late Sunday night that he had had a phone call with von der Leyen where the two spoke about “concrete decisions on strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities, macro-financial assistance and Ukraine’s membership in the EU.”
Kyiv-based news agency Interfax-Ukraine reported on Saturday that Zelensky pressed the EU, as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), for a firm timeline regarding the prospect of Ukraine’s membership.
“Eight years ago, Ukrainians made their choice, many gave their lives for it. Is it really possible that eight years after that, Ukraine should constantly call for recognition of the European prospect?” Zelensky said.
“Since 2014, the Russian Federation has been convincing that we have chosen the wrong path, and that no one is waiting for us in Europe. Shouldn’t Europe constantly say and justify with actions that this is not true? Is it not the EU that should say today: our citizens have a positive attitude towards Ukraine’s entry into the union? Why do we avoid this question? Doesn’t Ukraine deserve direct, honest answers?” Zelensky said.
By Katabella Roberts
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