Ukraine says Russia eyes a ‘vast area from Warsaw to Sofia’

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PRAGUE, June 15 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the European Union on Wednesday to let his country start on the road to membership of the bloc, warning that Russia’s territorial ambitions stretched from Warsaw to Sofia.

In a speech to both chambers of the Czech parliament via a video link, Zelenskiy also called for more EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

“Russia is not interested only in our (cities of) Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk, Kharkiv and Kyiv. No, its ambitions are directed on a vast area from Warsaw to Sofia,” he said, without citing evidence for his assertion.

“As in the past, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the first step that the Russian leadership needs to open the way to other countries, to the conquest of other peoples.”

The EU has adopted six rounds of sanctions against Russia, and Ukraine is seeking a seventh round to increase pressure on Russia to end the war.

The European Commission is expected to announce a decision on Ukraine’s request for candidate status this week ahead of an EU summit next week. Having candidate status would be a preliminary step in a long process to accession.

“To grant Ukraine candidate status now is to prove that European unification is real and that European values ​​really work and are not just indicated in certain documents,” Zelenskiy said.

He said the Czech people – following Nazi German occupation during World War Two and decades of Soviet domination after the war – knew how compromise ends and what comes of concessions to tyranny.

“The person who wants to seize everything will never stop at taking only part of what they want,” Zelenskiy said.

Russia did not immediately comment on his remarks. Moscow calls the war in Ukraine a special military operation against Ukraine’s military and what it portrays as dangerous nationalists.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

File Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin looks through binoculars as he watches the main phase of the Center 2019 strategic military exercise at the Donguz test ground outside Orenburg, Russia, 20 September 2019. EPA-EFE/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN

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