Europe’s week: Ukraine remains in focus as Brussels hosts summits
It was an intensive week in the EU capital, with a marathon of summits taking place in the presence of U.S. President Joe Biden in the European Council and at NATO too.
Leaders put on a show of unity, calling Vladimir Putin out for the destruction and death that they say he is responsible for causing in Ukraine.
Biden repoters that Vladimir Putin should never have underestimated the unity of the West: “The very thing that Putin has tried to do from the beginning, and I have been saying that since my time as vice president of the United States is to break up NATO. He’d rather face 30 independent countries than 30 united countries with the United States of America. It’s not a joke, I’m being deadly earnest. I believe that has been his intention from the very very beginning.”
Biden joined European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday to make a big announcement about a bumper energy partnership between the two partners, with the U.S. promising to help the European Union wean off Russian fossil fuels.
“The US commitment to provide the EU with an additional 15 billion Cubic metres of LNG this year is a big step in this direction. The is will replace the LNG supply we currently receive from Russia,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Also joining those meetings this week, albeit, virtually was Ukrainian President Zelenskyy who gave no less than three interventions during two meetings in Brussels on Thursday.
But he saved his most emotional plea for the last at the EU summit, begging EU leaders to fast track membership for Ukraine into the European Union.
He also asked Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, which side he was on. But when it comes to Ukrainian membership for the European Union, EU leaders remain pragmatic, saying that although Ukrainians do share the same values as Europeans, they still cannot skip that queue.
“EU accession is a process. There’s no fast-track procedure for accession. If we were to do that, we would turn the accession process into a political process, and that shouldn’t happen,” said Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, over at NATO, President Zelenskyy asked leaders for more military aid and for one percent of their tanks.
Behind the scenes, Western officials told Euronews that they are doing what they can for Ukraine and they are prepared for a potential chemical attack, but that they cannot reveal all those plans because they want to keep Vladimir Putin guessing.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, also refused to call Vladimir Putin a war criminal when asked by Euronews.
“Any deliberate attack on civilian infrastructure civilians will be a war crime and therefore I think it is extremely important that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation and those responsible must be held accountable,” Stoltenberg said.