KYIV (Reuters) – European Union (EU) President Charles Michel arrived in Kyiv on Thursday for talks on EU support for Ukraine, and the reforms the former Soviet republic needs achieve in order to be able to join the political-economic alliance.
Two weeks before the EU-Ukraine summit on February 3, Charles Michel, who chairs the meetings of the 27 heads of state or government of the EU, posted on Twitter a photo of himself on a train platform: “Back in Kyiv to discuss all aspects of cooperation […]. May 2023 be the year of victory and peace.”
Charles Michel had declared the day before that he was personally in favor of the West supplying tanks to Ukraine.
“We will work with (EU) member states to make this happen,” an EU official and an aide to Charles Michel told Reuters. “Before the EU-Ukraine summit, it is best to discuss with (Ukrainian President Volodimir) Zelensky what is most urgent and where we can build support.”
In a major geopolitical move, the European Union granted Ukraine candidate status for membership last year. The official said Kyiv should continue its rule of law reforms to be able to join the Union one day once the war is over.
As the first anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches, the 27 EU member states plan to give Ukraine €18 billion in financial aid in 2023, plan to add German Leopard tanks to the list of weapons they already supply to Kyiv, and are considering a tenth round of sanctions against Russia.
The European Union also supports investigations into alleged war crimes committed during the Russian invasion, as well as the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute Russian political and military leaders.
(Report Olena Harmash in Kyiv; with the contribution of Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels; written by Tom Balmforth and Gabriela Baczynska; French version Augustin Turpin, edited by Blandine Hénault)