Zelensky meets EU leaders to plead for more weapons

9.02.2023, 15:11

By Ciarán Sunderland and Doris Pundy, dpa

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Brussels on Thursday with a plea for faster delivery of arms and more weapons, including jets.

“I haven't got the right, I simply haven't got the right to come back home without the results,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky arrived in the Belgian capital to attend a summit of European Union leaders, after visiting London and Paris on Wednesday.

He continued his campaign for the creation of a tribunal to hold Russia accountable for its war in Ukraine, called for support for his peace plan, and urged the EU to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Zelensky told European Council President Charles Michel that Ukraine needs long-range artillery, air defence systems, missiles, fighter jets, battle tanks and ammunition, according to a statement.

Zelensky later said that he is planning to raise the issue of providing fighter jets to Ukraine in talks with different EU leaders.

"I've heard about the readiness to give us the necessary weapons and support, including the aircrafts," Zelensky said, ahead of the private consultations.

The talks, taking place in four different groups, see Zelensky meet with every EU leader except Germany's Scholz and French President Emmanual Macron, according to an EU official.

Addressing all 27 heads of state and government, Zelensky called for a swifter delivery of already-promised weapons.

"We have to enhance the dynamics of our cooperation. We have to do it faster than the aggressor," Zelensky said.

"We were working towards the enhancement of our capabilities," he said about a meeting held on Wednesday with Macron and Scholz, adding that they discussed armoured equipment and tanks.

Scholz underlined his country's support for Ukraine as he arrived at the summit.

Germany is the EU country that provides Ukraine with "the most financial and humanitarian support, but also with the most concrete support when it comes to arms deliveries," he said.

Scholz also said that he will work towards a rapid delivery of promised battle tanks to Ukraine.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas urged supporters of Ukraine to supply the country faster with weapons as the debate moves on from giving Western-made tanks to supplying the country with fighter jets.

The cost of inaction “will go up with every hesitation, with every delay,” she said.

Kallas also called for new EU sanctions as a “strong signal” of resolve ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

With new sanctions, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda wants the bloc to target the Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom, the energy company’s board members, Russian exports of diamonds and any remaining Russian banks.

Before meeting EU leaders, Zelensky addressed the European Parliament where he thanked the EU for its support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia and for hosting Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.

"Glory to Ukraine," Zelensky said in Ukrainian, visibly moved as he started an address to the European Parliament amid applause from EU legislators.

The Ukrainian president said that his country is fighting for European values in defending itself from Russian attacks.

"This is our Europe ... this is our way of life. And for Ukraine it's a way home," he said, adding that his country is making progress in fulfilling conditions to potentially join the bloc.

Zelensky praised the EU legislative chamber for its early backing of EU candidate status for Ukraine, stressing that the support motivated his country "to be strong and to stay the course."

After his speech, Zelensky and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola held an EU flag together in the plenary chamber, to a standing ovation from lawmakers before the Ukrainian and the EU anthems were played.