Volodymyr Zelensky calls for Ukraine to be given immediate EU membership

‘Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I’m sure that’s fair’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 28 February 2022 11:01
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Ukraine: Civilians block path of Russian tanks, surround them in human shield
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President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the European Union (EU) to allow Ukraine to be a part of the bloc immediately under a special procedure to defend itself from the Russian invasion of the country that entered its fifth day on Monday.

“We ask the European Union for Ukraine’s immediate accession under a new special procedure,” he said in a video speech.

“Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I’m sure that’s fair. I am sure we deserve it,” Mr Zelensky added.

The 44-year-old president, addressing Russian soldiers, asked them to lay down their weapons and leave the country. “Abandon your equipment. Get out of here. Don’t believe your commanders. Don’t believe your propagandists. Just save your lives,” he said.

Mr Zelensky claimed over 4,500 Russian soldiers had already lost their lives in the war.

According to reports, the Ukrainian president had earlier told the bloc’s leaders during a video conference that “this might be the last time you see me alive”.

His recent plea comes as Belarus readies to host the first peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations at its border on Monday. The Ukrainian presidency, in a statement, demanded an “immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine”.

The comedian-turned-president also said authorities would release convicts with combat experience to defend the nation. “We have taken a decision which is not easy from the moral point of view, but which is useful from the point of view of our defences,” he said.

The president also issued a call to foreign nationals who are “friends of peace and democracy” to travel to the country to fight against Russian troops.

“Anyone who wants to join the defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals,” he said, calling Russia’s invasion the “beginning of a war against Europe”.

The EU, meanwhile, said it will close its airspace to Russian airlines, fund weapon supplies to Ukraine and ban pro-Kremlin media.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU, said the 27-nation bloc would take the unprecedented step of enforcing a “ban [on] the Kremlin’s media machine”, including the state-owned news outlets Russia Today and Sputnik and their subsidiaries.

The Kremlin has, however, accused the bloc of hostile behaviour towards Russia, saying weapons supplies to Ukraine were dangerous and destabilising. It added that the EU’s move proved that Moscow was right in efforts to demilitarise its neighbour.

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