Zelensky takes his plea for fighter jets to the EU
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Zelensky welcomed by EU leaders in Brussels
President Volodymyr Zelensky continued his diplomatic offensive on Thursday pleading with EU leaders to give him the fighter jets and heavy weaponry he needs to defeat Russia. Following his visit to the UK he was given a standing ovation at the European Parliament in Brussels.
He told the gathered MEPs: “We are defending against the most anti-European force of the modern world. We are defending ourselves, we Ukrainians on the battlefield, along with you.
“I have to thank you personally for your unwavering support of our country and our aspirations, our aspirations to live in a united, free Europe.
“We have to enhance the dynamics of our cooperation, we have to do it faster than the aggressor.”
The Ukrainian president’s tour of key European powers infuriated the Russians with a Putin spokesman warning that the line between the West’s indirect and direct involvement in the war was “disappearing”.
Meanwhile, Mr Zelensky said that “a Ukraine that is winning” should become a European Union member, arguing the bloc would not be whole without his country being an integral part of the EU.
Ukraine has applied to join the EU and is urging the bloc’s leaders to throw its weight behind a swift course to accession, which usually takes many years.
In a later summit with EU leaders, he stressed that Europe could not be free without a free Ukraine.
The Ukrainian leader had earlier travelled from Paris with France’s Emmanuel Macron, where he had also held talks with Germany’s Olaf Scholz.
Mr Zelensky said Germany and France had the potential to be “game-changers” in the war.
He said that the sooner Ukraine received heavy, long-range weapons and modern planes, “the quicker this Russian aggression will end”.
Although President Macron has previously signalled some openness to providing fighter jets, Mr Scholz has not.
The French leader vowed Ukraine could count on his support, with France “determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights”.
Chancellor Scholz added: “The position is unchanged: Russia must not win this war.”
Because of the 11-month-long Russian invasion, Mr Zelensky rarely leaves his own country and a senior Ukrainian official said that the purpose of his trip was to obtain results.
He argues that fighter jets and long-range missiles are important in addition to the Leopard 2 tanks that Western nations have recently committed to supplying.
While Mr Zelensky said he had discussed the issue of combat planes in Paris, he warned there was “very little time” to provide much-needed weaponry.
Moscow has repeatably warned the West against weapons deliveries since the war began, frequently threatening to retaliate against what it calls “provocations”.
The Kremlin warned on Thursday that the line between direct and indirect Western involvement in the conflict was disappearing.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov: “We take this as the growing involvement of Britain, Germany, and France in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“The line between indirect and direct involvement is gradually disappearing.”
He said that the West’s actions were dragging out the conflict resulted in its escalation, and made it “more painful and agonizing for Ukraine.”
Peskov stressed that military aid to Ukraine “would neither change the outcome of this conflict, nor alter the trajectory of our country in terms of reaching its objectives set within the framework of the special military operation.”
The Russian embassy in London resorted to mockery, calling Zelensky “the ex-comedian in a green sweatshirt now on tour around Europe” and accused him of being a pompous hypocrite.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola called on EU states to consider Kyiv’s request for jets quickly.
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