Von der Leyen promises in Kyiv that the EU will support Ukraine “as long as necessary”.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who visited Kyiv on Thursday, vowed that the EU would support Ukraine against Russia “for as long” as necessary and called for Vladimir Putin to be prosecuted for war crimes committed since the invasion began court is brought.
In the evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured that a “mass grave” had been discovered in Izium, a city that was retaken from the Russians a few days ago as part of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region (east).
“We want the world to know what the Russian occupation has done,” he said in his daily video address, without giving details of how many people were buried or the causes of death.
Ms. von der Leyen’s trip coincided with a meeting between the Russian President and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for a regional summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which has been touted as an “alternative” to Western alliances .
While hailing Mr Xi’s “balanced position” on Ukraine on that occasion, Vladimir Putin also said “understand (his) questions and (his) concerns” on the issue.
“It is not surprising that the PRC (People’s Republic of China, editor’s note) appears to have such concerns,” the US State Department said.
Beijing has neither supported nor publicly criticized the Russian invasion, while repeatedly voicing support for Moscow in the face of Western sanctions.
In Samarkand, Mr Putin also condemned Western attempts to create a “unipolar world,” while Mr Xi stressed that his country was ready to assume its role as a “great power” with Russia, while insisting on the goal of “stability” that face of “chaos”.
– Judge Putin –
In Ukraine, Ms von der Leyen spoke to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy and said she was impressed by the “courage” of Ukrainian forces on the front lines.
“You will have your European friends by your side for as long as it takes. We’re friends forever,” she said alongside Mr. Zelensky.
In an interview with the daily newspaper Bild, Ms. von der Leyen also called for the Russian President to be brought before international justice.
“Putin must lose this war and be responsible for his actions, that’s important to me,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
Ukraine’s “priority” is to be part of the European Union’s common market, where goods, services and capital can circulate freely between countries, stressed the Ukrainian President, whose country in particular wants to increase its electricity supplies to the EU.
This was Ms von der Leyen’s third visit to Ukraine, but her first since the country became an EU candidate country.
In June, the Europeans approved Ukraine’s candidacy, which is also aiming to join NATO. This prospect is perceived as an existential threat by Moscow, which used this pretext, among other things, to launch its invasion on February 24.
The West has responded to a series of sanctions against Russia and has supplied arms to Kyiv, crucial support that has enabled it to retake thousands of square kilometers of territory from Russian forces in recent weeks.
In this context, Germany announced on Thursday that it would be supplied with armored vehicles “very soon”, but not for the moment when the main battle tanks claimed, while the United States opted for a new volley of sanctions against around twenty Russian officials.
Arming Ukraine could be acceptable “if the moral conditions are met,” Pope Francis said.
At the same time, Russian diplomatic spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned Washington against sending long-range missiles into Ukraine, which would represent crossing a “red line” and forcing Moscow to “react.”
– Numerous Russian strikes –
Ukraine is also asking for financial support as its economy has collapsed and currently needs $5 billion a month to cover its budget deficit.
On the eve of Ms. von der Leyen’s trip, Volodymyr Zelenskyy went to the strategic city of Izium, from where he promised “victory” to the Ukrainians.
He stressed that thanks to a counter-offensive launched in early September, “almost the entire Kharkiv region” is now “liberated.”
But on Thursday, “more than 20 places” across Ukraine were affected by Russian attacks, the Ukrainian army emphasized.
In Bakhmout in the eastern Donetsk region, AFP journalists saw a thick plume of smoke on Thursday morning after the strike hit a residential building overnight. Firefighters tried to find bodies amidst a pile of rubble while the streets were nearly deserted and artillery fire could be heard.
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