The European executive endorsed on Friday the candidacy of Ukraine to the European Union (EU), in a gesture of strong solidarity that coincides with the intensification of fighting against Russian forces in the east of the country.
The European Commission recommended granting Ukraine the status of candidate and thanks to this approval the issue can be discussed at the next European summit on June 23 and 24 in Brussels.
Look: New video of Vladimir Putin fuels disturbing rumors about his health
“We all know that the Ukrainians are willing to die to defend their European aspirations. We want them to live with us, for the European dream”, declared the president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, dressed in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.
The 27 members of the EU must give their green light unanimously, but kyiv already has the approval of Germany, France and Italy, which staged their support on Thursday in a trip to Ukraine of their top leaders.
the ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskycelebrated that “historic decision” and said that he hoped for a “positive result” at the next summit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin assured for his part that he has “nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU.
“Unlike NATO, the EU is not a military alliance” and “joining economic unions is a sovereign decision… of the Ukrainian people,” Putin told the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
However, he clarified, if Ukraine is admitted to the EU, “it will become a semi-colony” of Western countries.
Ukraine’s accession to the EU bloc could take years, as the country has to meet a number of requirements. There is still “a lot to do”, especially in the fight against corruption and respect for the rule of law, said Von der Leyen.
Hours after the Commission’s announcement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a surprise visit to kyiv for the second time since the start of the Russian offensive on February 24.
“The many days of this war have shown Britain’s strong and determined support for Ukraine,” he tweeted. Zelensky.
In the Ukrainian capital, Johnson offered “a great training program” for the Ukrainian troops. The plan could train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days, detailed his cabinet.
Gas supply cuts
In addition to military pressure on Ukraine, Russia continues to inject tension into the gas market with supply cuts to Europe.
The operator of the French gas transport network GRTgaz announced that it has not received Russian gas by pipeline since June 15 and the Italian Eni said that it expects to receive only 50% of the gas ordered from the Russian giant Gazprom during the day.
Several European countries, including Italy and Germany, rely heavily on Russian gas to meet their energy needs.
In most European countries the gas shortage is not yet felt, since in the height of summer it is not necessary to turn on the heating.
But western Europe is currently suffering from a heat wave and energy prices have risen sharply, adding to rampant inflation.
Putin denied that the rise in fuel prices was due to the military offensive in Ukraine and blamed it on “systemic errors” in Western countries.
“We have all heard of a supposed ‘Putin inflation’ (…). Our actions to liberate Donbas have nothing to do with it,” he insisted.
Humanitarian situation “worrying”
In Ukraine113 days after the start of the war, “the humanitarian situation, in particular in the eastern region of Donbas, is extremely worrying and continues to deteriorate rapidly,” warned the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. UN (EIGHT).
Four civilians were killed and six wounded on Friday in a Russian bombardment in the Donetsk region, which with Luhansk makes up Donbas, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.
The fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continue in Severodonetsk, a key city in Donbas that Moscow has been trying to conquer for weeks.
Luhansk Governor Sergei Gaidai called for a full ceasefire to evacuate 568 civilians, including 38 children, sheltered in a huge chemical plant in the city. Leaving the factory is “impossible and dangerous” because of the fightinghe indicated.
In the village of Adamivka, on the Donbas front line, near the city of Sloviansk, a rocket landed in the garden of a community of Orthodox nuns, who live under almost constant bombardment by Russian forces.
“We trust in the will of God (…). East it is our home, we have no other place to go,” Sister Anastasi said.
In Mikolaiv (south of Ukraine), at least two people died and 20 were injured in a attack Russian, informed the governor of the region, Vitali Kim.