President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday that “a Ukraine that is winning” its war with Russia should be a member of the European Union, arguing the bloc would not be complete without it.
Zelenskyy made his appeal during an exciting day at EU headquarters in Brussels, as he wrapped up a rare two-day trip out of Ukraine.
He received enthusiastic cheers and cheers from the European Parliament and a summit of 27 EU leaders, insisting in his speech that the fight with Russia was a fight for the freedom of all of Europe.
“A Ukraine that is winning will be a member of the European Union,” Zelenskyy said, building his appeal around the common fate Ukraine and the bloc face in taking on Russia.
“Europe will always be and will remain Europe as long as we take care of the European way of life,” he said.
He added that accession talks should start before the end of the year, an ambitious request considering the huge task ahead. Such a move would help motivate Ukrainian soldiers in their defense of the country.
“There is no rigid timetable,” warned the president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
He raised an EU flag after his speech and the entire legislature fell in grim silence as the Ukrainian national anthem and the European anthem “Ode to Joy” were played in succession.
Metsola: Ukraine is Europe and the future of your nation is in the European Union
Ahead of her speech, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said allies should “rapidly consider supplying long-range systems” and fighter jets to Ukraine as the next step.
Metsola also told Zelenskyy that “we have your back. We were with you then, we are with you now, we will be with you for as long as it takes.
A draft of the summit’s conclusions seen by the Associated Press says that “the European Union will support Ukraine with continued support for as long as necessary”.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said the bloc would send Zelensky “this signal of unity and solidarity and can show that we will continue to support Ukraine in defending its independence and integrity”.