Zelenskyy completes a charm offensive in Europe as Ukraine prepares for next phase

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, visited Europe’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, 9 February 2023. He requested more weapons and thanked the EU for support for now.

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BRUSSELS — President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyytrip around Europe, before a new attack is expected from Russiahas been relatively successful despite the political and logistical challenges that such a popular tour might face.

The European Union, Ukraine’s biggest financial aid donor, has been wanting a visit from the Ukrainian leader for several months, especially after Zelenskyy traveled to Washington, DC, in December. Organize a Such a trip is confusing, especially when a surprise visit is leaked to the international press.

Politico Europe obtained a Screenshots of a tweet published on Monday by a group of European lawmakers welcoming Zelenskyy – the same tweet was quickly deleted.

A Ukrainian official, who did not wish to be named due to the sensitive nature of the visit, told CNBC on Tuesday that it was unclear whether Zelenskyy would still visit Brussels because it had been leaked to the press in advance.

Zelenskyy says that certain agreements with allies are not public, but are positive

However, on Wednesday morning, Zelenskyy managed to make a small splash when he landed in London to meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III.

Zelenskyy then traveled to Paris on Wednesday evening and arrived in Brussels on Thursday morning with French President Emmanuel Macron. The Ukrainian leader has finally become the center of European policymaking, giving European officials a sense of relief and, to some extent, pride.

An EU official, who wished to remain anonymous due to sensitive preparations for the trip, said: “It makes sense for him to [Zelenskyy] visit the G-7 leaders first, we don’t have the weapons he needs.”

Weapons, weapons, weapons

Zelenskyy sent a direct message to European leaders asking for the supply of long-range artillery and ammunition, air defense systems, missiles, fighter aircraft and battle tanks.

“We, my friends, are defending Europe from a regime that has proven it has only one ambition: to destroy Europe’s freedoms and to become an autocratic boss on the continent.” Zelenskyy told 27 heads of state in Brussels on Thursday, reminding them that Kiev is fighting for European values.

Zelenskyy of Ukraine visits Brussels

In London, Zelenskyy received assurances that the UK would double its training for the Ukrainian army and that the training would also include pilots so that Kiev could better defend its skies. Sunak did not commit to sending the much-anticipated fighters, but did not rule out the possibility of doing so later.

In Paris, Zelenskyy was also promised additional military support. “There are certain agreements, which are not made public, but are positive,” he told reporters in Brussels, wanting to keep these guarantees secret.

An official working for a Nordic EU country, who did not wish to be named due to the secrecy of the negotiations, told CNBC that “several countries have said [they will send fighter jets]. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Speaking at a press conference early on Friday, Macron also did not rule out the possibility of sending planes to Ukraine.

A second official, who works for another EU country, told CNBC that sending the jets would take some time to materialize, if that is supposed to be possible. One of the problems raised by the Allies was that it took a long time to train fighter pilots.

New sanctions against Russia

Meanwhile, EU institutions are working on a new package of sanctions against Russia. Speaking on Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said these would include new export bans worth 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) and target propaganda by the EU. Russia.

“We will impose sanctions on a number of political and military leaders. In addition, dear Volodymyr, we listened very carefully to your messages when we visited you on last week in Kiev. We will target Putin’s propagandists. Because there are lies that are poisoning public spaces in Russia and abroad,” von der Leyen said as he stood next to the leader. Ukraine.

The new sanctions will be finalized on February 24, marking one year since Russia invaded Ukraine.

In the medium term, Zelenskyy wants the EU to help raise the morale of Ukraine’s military by opening negotiations for his country to one day join the political bloc.

Ukraine submitted a request to join the EU last year, after the war started. He pressured EU leaders to start the process this year. “When I say this year, Charles, I mean this year, February 23,” Zelenskyy told European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs meetings between EU leaders in Brussels.

‘A very reasonable man’

Zelenskyy was only in Brussels for less than 24 hours but has already left a positive impression on some EU officials. He has worked closely with the EU but this marks the first time since the invasion began that he has been able to meet EU officials in person in Brussels.

“He’s full of energy, in a positive mood, very focused. He’s highly focused and committed to the Ukrainian cause – he’s a very sensitive person,” an EU official said of the total. Ukrainian president.

An official working for a Nordic country said: “Seeing him with my own eyes makes [an] impact after a year of video addresses.”

How Ukraine brought the European Union together


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