March 27, 2023
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United on Ukraine, EU tackles the devil in details at summit

United on Ukraine, EU tackles the devil in details at summit

EU nations have been absolutely united in backing Ukraine’s resistance, adopting unprecedented financial sanctions in opposition to Russia, however leaders are divided on how briskly Brussels may transfer to simply accept Ukraine as a member, and the way swiftly the 27-nation bloc may sever power ties with Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy desires his nation to shortly be a part of the EU, however an settlement on that time gained’t be achieved this week throughout the two-day summit hosted in the palace of Versailles west of Paris.

At greatest, EU leaders are anticipated to agree on language supportive of the Ukrainian bid to affix the European household, however they’ll cease in need of going additional into the course of.

The Ukrainian fast-track bid has obtained heat help in Jap European international locations, however EU officers have burdened the course of may take years, with unanimity amongst present members required to permit a newcomer in the membership.

French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned the EU should ship a “strong signal” of help for Ukraine, however dominated out the risk for the nation to affix the bloc any time quickly.

“Can we open today a procedure of accession (to the EU) with a country at war? I don’t think so,” Macron mentioned. “Shall we close the door and say (to Ukraine): ‘Never?’ That would be unfair.”

Upon his arrival at Versailles, Dutch Prime minister Mark Rutte mentioned he instructed Zelenskyy that Ukraine’s EU accession cannot be sped up.

“There isn’t something like a fast track, a fast procedure,” Rutte mentioned. “We also have to take the Western Balkan nations into account, who sometimes have been working for over a decade to become merely a candidate nation for membership. Think of Albania and Macedonia. Let’s see what we can do in a practical sense.”

One other key deterrent to a hasty resolution — which Macron alluded to — is the particular EU treaty clause that if a member falls sufferer to armed aggression, the different EU international locations have an obligation to assist and help it by all the means in their energy.

However particularly the Baltic nations, with their Soviet previous, wish to attain out to Ukraine.

“It’s also important to show a clear open door for EU membership for Ukraine, that the path is open for them to take and that we as a family of democratic nations would want them,” mentioned Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. “That’s very, very important for the Ukrainians right now as a very important signal.”

Leaders’ talks may even focus on find out how to wean the bloc off its Russian power dependency and bolster the area’s protection capabilities.

Attainable new sanctions in opposition to Russia and its ally Belarus — together with slicing all their banks from the SWIFT dominant system for international monetary transactions — may even be on the desk.

“The energy sector is the Kremlin’s main source of income, some 600 million euros a day,” Karins mentioned. “If we were to stop the purchase of Russian energy, that would stop the funding of the Russian military machine.”

All leaders agree that the EU ought to scale back its dependency on imports of Russian gasoline, oil and coal whereas accelerating the inexperienced transition. The EU imports 90% of the pure gasoline used to generate electrical energy, warmth properties and provide business, with Russia supplying nearly 40% of EU gasoline and 1 / 4 of its oil.

Earlier this week, the European Fee proposed to diversify pure gasoline provides and velocity up renewable power growth in a bid to cut back EU demand for Russian gasoline by two-thirds earlier than the finish of the 12 months.

Macron mentioned the talks in Versailles purpose at figuring out at which tempo the EU can “reduce, then remove” its dependency as the year-end deadline proposed by the fee appears unrealistic to many member states.

It’s additionally unlikely leaders will comply with Washington’s lead and unanimously endorse a full embargo on Russian oil and gasoline imports. France gained’t defend what it considers a radical measure and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has made clear he opposes the thought.

Efforts to agree on a boycott are sophisticated as a result of some EU international locations, together with Germany and Italy, are rather more dependent than others on Russia. Poland will get 67% of its oil from Russia, whereas Eire receives solely 5%.

Rutte mentioned it was important that the EU ought to “not (go) hastily in the direction of a complete ban on gas and oil from Russia.”

The EU has confirmed outstanding cohesion since the warfare began final month. It shortly adopted huge sanctions concentrating on Putin himself, Russia’s monetary system and its high-maintenance oligarchs. It additionally took the unprecedented step of collectively supplying weapons to a rustic underneath assault.

Based on a draft of the summit’s conclusions obtained by The Related Press, leaders will agree in Versailles that they “must bolster resolutely (their) investment in defense capabilities and innovative technologies,” and to proceed efforts to make the EU “a stronger and extra succesful safety supplier.”


Raf Casert in Brussels and Jeff Schaeffer in Paris contributed.


Observe AP protection of the Russia-Ukraine warfare at

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