Ursula von der Leyen visits Kyiv to talk about EU integration
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Kyiv on Thursday (15 September) to advance Ukraine’s EU integration process as its armed forces gain ground against Russia.
This visit comes as the Presidents of Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, meet on the sidelines of a regional summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan, touted as an “alternative” to the West.
“To Kyiv for my third visit since the beginning of the Russian war”Ms. von der Leyen said on Twitter, but this is the first time since Ukraine’s admission as an EU candidate country.
In her opinion, the discussions will focus on how to do this “Bringing our economies and people together as Ukraine moves towards accession” to the Union.
In June, Europeans approved the candidacy of Ukraine, which also wants to join NATO, which Moscow perceives as an existential threat, which, among other things, used this pretext to launch an invasion of the country on February 24.
In response, the West imposed a series of sanctions on Russia while also supplying arms to Kyiv. A crucial support that has enabled him to retake thousands of square kilometers of territory from Russian forces in recent weeks.
But Ukraine is also asking for financial support, as its economy has collapsed and Finance Minister Sergei Marchenko estimates that the country needs five billion dollars a month to cover its budget deficit.
On the eve of Ms. von der Leyen’s visit, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the strategic city of Izium, recently recaptured from the Russians in the Kharkiv region (northeast), where he made a promise to the Ukrainians “Victory”.
He pointed this out in his daily evening address “Almost the entire Kharkiv region is liberated” with the intake “400 towns”thanks to a Ukrainian counter-offensive launched in this and elsewhere in early September, which seems to have taken Moscow’s forces by surprise.
Before his speech, the President had also suffered an inconsequential car accident in Kyiv, when “A car collided” with his vehicle, according to his spokesman Serguiï Nikiforov.
On Wednesday evening, Russian forces in turn hit hydraulic infrastructure with the help of seven rockets, causing sudden flooding of the Ingulets River in Kryvyï Rig, the birthplace of Mr. Selensky, who denounced an attempt to flood it.
Deputy head of the presidential administration Kyrylo Tymoshenko told Telegram on Thursday that 112 houses had drowned in this city of around 600,000 without any casualties.
On the Eastern Front, several towns and villages including Toretsk, Bakhmout, Avdiivka and Chassiv Iar were bombed, according to the presidency, killing two civilians and wounding 13 in the past 24 hours.
The situation is the same in the Kherson region (south), where Ukrainian forces are also conducting a counteroffensive, but seem to be facing more resistance than in Kharkiv “extremely difficult” with something “active fighting”from the same source.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan
For their part, far from Ukraine, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will meet in Uzbekistan on Thursday, an opportunity to re-seal their alliance against the West as their countries find themselves at the center of diplomatic crises.
Arriving by plane in this former Soviet republic on Thursday morning, Mr Putin was greeted there on the tarmac by a guard of honour.
Targeted by Western sanctions aimed at weakening and isolating Russia, Mr Putin has sought to hasten a turn to Asia since the start of the war in Ukraine.
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