June 17 (UPI) — European leaders who visited Ukraine on Thursday said they supported Ukraine’s efforts to become a member of the European Union, but did not guarantee the stronger weapons it needs to push back against Russia in his current invasion of the country.
As Moscow continued its bombardment to wrest the eastern Donbass region from Ukraine, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania called for membership to bring Ukraine into the ‘Western Europe.
“We touched on the topic of diplomatic efforts of various countries to achieve peace,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, according to to The New York Times. “Everyone sees that the only obstacle to all these efforts is the unpreparedness of the Russian Federation for real actions, for real negotiations.”
Entering the European Union, however, it is complicatedstarting with the agreement of the 27 members and a process that could take up to five years.
The European Commission on Friday recommended that Ukraine become a candidate for membership to join the bloc, on the understanding that the war-torn country carries out major reforms. This recommendation will be conveyed to the leaders next week.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country and fight its way to full membership.
“Ukraine deserves [the] European perspective,” said von der Leyen, according to CNBC. “Yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country. This being understood that good work has been done, but important work also remains to be done.”
Additionally, however, Ukraine had hoped for long-range artillery that would help its army repel Russia, which continued to make territorial gains during its invasion.
“We are waiting for new supplies, especially heavy weapons, modern anti-rocket artillery and missile defense systems,” Zelensky said, according to The New York Times. “Every batch of supplies saves lives. And every day of delays or postponed decisions is an opportunity for the Russian military to kill Ukrainians.”
After Russia used considerable resources to capture the key port city of Mariupol after three months of bombardment, a city official said the municipality was now “medieval”, with running water only provided in 2 to 3% of households.
Mariupol Mayor Petro Andriushchenko said health issues are the main problem now that the Russian military controls the city.
“The risk of spreading the disease is increasing day by day,” Andriushchenko said, according to CNN. “There are reports of people coming to doctors with symptoms similar to dysentery or cholera.”
The British Ministry of Defense said on Friday that Moscow was continuing to try to regain momentum on the Popasna axis with the aim of encircling Severodonetsk from the south.
“In Russia, the war accelerated the state’s long-term trajectory towards authoritarianism,” the ministry said. said on Twitter. “In recent weeks, the Duma has started the process of introducing a 20-year sentence for Russians who fight against the Russian Federation.
“Speaking out against the invasion is also criminalized. Although the majority of Russians tell pollsters that they support the ‘special military operation’, elements of the population are both actively and passively demonstrating their opposition.”