UPDATED: Some EU leaders ready to give aircrafts to Ukraine – Zelenskiy

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BRUSSELS, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said several European Union leaders told a summit he attended on Thursday they were ready to provide Kyiv with aircraft to help it fight against Russia’s invasion.

Zelenskiy spoke after joining – for the first time ever – all the 27 national EU leaders’ talks inBrussels, part of his second trip abroad since Russia attacked a year ago this month and one meant to get more arms from allies.

“Europe will be with us until our victory. I’ve heard it from a number of European leaders… about the readiness to give us the necessary weapons and support, including the aircraft,” Zelenskiy told a news conference.

“I have a number of bilaterials now, we are going to raise the issue of the fighter jets and other aircraft.”

Zelenskiy said on Thursday that he believed his country would join the European Union after emerging victorious from its war with Russia.

“We are moving closer to the European Union. Ukraine will be a member of the European Union,” he said in an address to the European Parliament in Brussels, describing his country as “a Ukraine that is winning.”

Ukraine became a candidate to join the EU last June but the process of joining the 27-nation bloc takes several years.

Zelenskiy said Kyiv and its European partners were defending themselves against what he cast as historic aggression from Russia.

“Europe, we are defending ourselves against the biggest anti-European force of the modern world,” he said. “We, Ukrainians, on the battlefield, together with you.”

Zelenskiy also thanked Ukraine’s allies for the military and humanitarian aid they have provided since Russia’s invasion in February last year, which has included air strikes on the country’s critical infastructure.

“I thank everyone who helps Ukraine with the essentials: weapons and ammunition, energy equipment and fuel, thousands of things without which we couldn’t make it amid total war.”

While Zelenskiy is unlikely to leave with immediate pledges to satisfy his requests, the visit gives him a chance to press his case in person with all the EU’s 27 national leaders for the first time since Russia invaded his country on Feb. 24, 2022.

He did not repeat Ukraine’s demand for jets in his speech to the European parliament.

EU must quickly consider giving Ukraine jets – EU parliament head

European Union countries must quickly consider providing fighter jets to Ukraine, the head of the bloc’s parliament said on Thursday as she hosted President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, touring Europe to win more arms to fight against the Russian invasion.

Referencing the biblical fight between David and Goliath, European Parliament head, Roberta Metsola said in addressing Zelenskiy in the chamber:

“You need to win and now (EU) member states must consider quickly as the next step providing long-range systems and the jets that you need to protect your liberty.”

EP Plenary session – Formal sitting – address by Volodymyr ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President

Ukrainian officials are also pushing for membership talks within months.

But while some EU member countries are keen to give Ukraine the morale boost that would come with starting talks to join the bloc, others are much more cautious. They have stressed would-be members need to meet a range of criteria – such as cracking down on corruption – before they can even start negotiations.

This is the first time that President Zelenskyy cameto the European Parliament in person, after addressing MEPs remotely during an extraordinary session on 1 March, shortly after Russia started its war against Ukraine, and on 14 December when Parliament’s 2022 Sakharov Prize was awarded to the brave people of Ukraine.

The trip was only Zelenskiy’s second known time out of his country since the war began and followed a surprise visit to Washington in December. The president started on Wednesday in London, where he won a British pledge to train Ukrainian pilots on advanced NATO fighter jets from British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He also visited Paris, from where he travelled to Brussels with French President Macron.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy tells EU summit: no free Europe without free Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told European Union leaders in Brussels there was no free Europe without free Ukraine as he tours Europe to ask allies for more arms to fight Russia and push Kyiv’s bid to join the Western bloc.

“Europe should not have gray zones, our whole continent should be open to European destiny,” Zelenskiy told the 27 national EU leaders gathered for a summit in Brussels ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion against Ukraine. “Unity of Europe is fundamental to security.”

“Free Europe cannot be imagined without free Ukraine,” he said. “Europe is free, Europe will be free and Europe is united.”

Roberta METSOLA, EP President meets with Volodymyr ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President

Statement of the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament on support for Ukraine

In a joint statement, the President of Parliament Roberta Metsola and the chairpersons of the political groups reaffirmed their unwavering solidarity with the people of Ukraine and support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We call on Member States to continue to assist Ukraine in political, military, economic, infrastructure-related, financial and humanitarian terms”, the statement says. “Ukraine must be supported as it defends itself from the continued illegal, brutal Russian war of aggression. We call again for States to increase and accelerate their military assistance, provision of necessary military equipment and defence systems and training of Ukrainian armed forces. We reiterate that Ukraine’s future is as a Member of the European Union, and welcome the huge efforts of Ukraine in meeting objectives related to its accession. We are hopeful that all the conditions required will be met in order for accession negotiations to begin as soon as possible. We emphasise our willingness to do what is necessary to hold the Russian perpetrators to account for the war crimes, crimes against humanity and atrocities committed in Ukraine”

The Conference of Presidents underlined its support for President Zelenskyy’s 10 proposals for peace plan and calls for the reconstruction effort to make use of frozen Russian assets.

Photos: EP

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