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European leaders visit Ukraine in show of support

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The leaders of Europe’s three largest economies – French President Macron, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi have each voiced support to Ukraine joining the European Union during a joint visit to Kyiv

The leaders agree the war-torn nation should get “immediate” candidate status, but in reality, this is just the start of a lengthy membership process.

Ukraine’s candidacy will need to be agreed on by all 27 of the EU’s member states, and this could happen during an EU summit on June 23.

A negotiation stage would follow, in which the nation could be asked to implement reforms, such as stamping out corruption.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says while warm scenes during the visit represent an “historic breakthrough” – she also warns Western countries have shown a “gap between promises and actions” in the past.

Kyiv hopes their visit brings concrete action

All three leaders are seeking to overcome Ukraine’s criticism of their response to its fight against Russia’s invasion.

Irpin was one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops in the north before they pulled back to intensify their offensive in the east.

Ukraine says Russia committed large-scale atrocities here, which Russia denies.

Macron called the town “heroic” and said there were signs war crimes were committed.

The French president has been criticized at home and abroad for not going to Ukraine earlier. He has repeatedly said he would only go if and when the visit could be “useful” and not just symbolic.

The trio arrived together by train in a show of unified solidarity, but it remains to be seen what concrete steps they bring.

“A message of unity we’re sending to the Ukrainians, yes, of support, to speak about today but also the future because we know the weeks to come will be very difficult.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants his visitors to deliver more arms to help his hard-pressed army withstand the Russian invaders.

“Every day of delay or delayed decisions is an opportunity for the Russian military to kill Ukrainians or destroy our cities. There is a direct correlation: the more powerful weapons we get, the faster we can liberate our people, our land. Ukrainian people are waiting for liberation of our territory, of Ukraine’s territory.”

Kyiv has accused France, Germany and, to a lesser extent, Italy, of foot-dragging: being slow to deliver weapons and putting their own prosperity ahead of Ukraine’s freedom and security.

Ukraine has been particularly critical of Germany’s military aid and wants Scholz to hand over heavy weapons that have been promised but not yet delivered.

Scholz has dismissed allegations he has held back, saying Germany was one of the biggest military and financial backers of Ukraine.

Kyiv officials have also expressed fears of pressure to accept a peace deal favorable to Russia, which calls its invasion a “special military operation”.

The Kremlin said the leaders’ visit shouldn’t only focus on supplying weapons. It’s “absolutely useless,” spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, and will prolong suffering and cause further damage.

The European Union’s executive is expected to propose on Friday (June 17) that Ukraine become a formal candidate for membership, diplomats and officials say.

That would be a significant political gesture to Ukraine, but it’s also something EU leaders are divided on.

Reuters

William is an Executive News Producer at TICKER NEWS, responsible for the production and direction of news bulletins. William is also the presenter of the hourly Weather + Climate segment. With qualifications in Journalism and Law (LLB), William previously worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) before moving to TICKER NEWS. He was also an intern at the Seven Network's 'Sunrise'. A creative-minded individual, William has a passion for broadcast journalism and reporting on global politics and international affairs.

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