European Union leaders met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Tuesday, pledging to strengthen ties and support the Eastern European nation, especially on the issue of Russia and energy security.
Zelensky invited EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for the 23rd EU-Ukraine Summit, a meeting held annually to enhance political and economic ties.
The issue of energy was at the top of the agenda. The Ukrainian leader has expressed strong opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would connect Russia to Germany, leaving his home country and, says Zelensky, Europe’s energy dependence on Russia growing.
Ukraine, in conflict with Russia since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, wants to ensure that it remains a major transit country even after gas begins to flow through the pipeline.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Zelensky said, “Energy security is also a guarantee of Ukraine’s independence and national sovereignty. Completion of Nord Stream 2 [pipeline] In addition to the existing challenges for Ukraine, it also opens up new challenges.”
Von der Leyen said the EU understands their concerns and pledged to work with Ukrainian experts “to secure adequate supplies for Ukraine”.
During the meeting, the EU and Ukraine signed an “open skies” agreement to facilitate air travel between Ukraine and EU member states by opening the market for low-cost airlines.
Von der Leyen and Michel commended Zelensky on the progress the nation has made, but said that Ukraine needs to continue to “focus on implementing reforms” to take their “partnership to the next level”. , referring to possible membership of the European Union.
Zelensky expressed disappointment at the lack of a definitive timeline for that goal. He said, “It is already clear that we are on the same path, but where is the final line on this path?”
Some information for this report has been obtained from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.