Air raid sirens sound in Ukraine during European leaders visit

Zelenskyy and EU president
Zelenskyy welcomes Ursula von der Leyen

On Friday, air raid sirens went out all around Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received European Union leaders to talk about more sanctions against Russia and Ukraine’s potential membership in the European Union.

The chairman of the 27 EU national leaders and the president of the EU executive commission both traveled to Kyiv to show their solidarity for Ukraine as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour on February 24, 2022, draws near.

“There will be no let up in our resolve. We will also support you every step of the way on your journey to the EU,” EU chairman Charles Michel wrote on Twitter on Friday morning under a picture of himself on a central Kyiv square.

Following the air raid warning, there were no reports of more missile attacks immediately.

Zelenskyy wants the European Union to take more severe action against Russia, but the fresh sanctions the union is planning for the anniversary are expected to fall short of what his government wants.

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Days after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Kyiv submitted an application to join the bloc. Although Ukraine requested a fast track to membership while the country is at war, the EU welcomed the application nonetheless.

A draft of the joint statement, which Michel, Zelenskyy, and EU executive commission head Ursula von der Leyen were expected to make, was seen by Reuters in advance. It was expected to say “The EU will support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people against Russia’s ongoing war of aggression for as long as it takes.”

Multiple entry requirements have been outlined by EU officials, including adoption of different EU regulations as well as political and economic stability. Years are presumably needed to complete the process.

“Some may want to speculate about the endgame but the simple truth is that we are not there yet,” an EU official said.