President of the European Council Charles Michel (right), European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left) and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands following a press conference after a round-table meeting as part of a EU summit in Brussels, on Feb 9, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
BRUSSELS – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday assured Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky of the European Union's (EU) continued support and she said that preparations are underway for a 10th round of sanctions against Russia.
Ukraine and the EU are "one family," she said, and that the country can depend on Europe's continued support in its fight against Russia.
"You can count on us. We will continue to provide our full support," she told Zelensky during a press conference after he addressed the EU leaders' meeting.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will propose the 10th package of sanctions against Russia in the coming days, which will include additional export bans worth more than 10 billion euros
The Belgian capital was the third stop on Zelensky's whirlwind tour of Europe. He visited London on Wednesday to address Parliament and meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He also met King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.
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He then crossed over to Paris for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a tri-party dinner held at the presidential Elysee Palace.
Zelensky then traveled with Macron to Brussels on Thursday, where he delivered a speech to European lawmakers and later addressed all 27 leaders of the EU member states' special summit. It was Zelensky's first official visit to the European Parliament (EP) after having addressed its members remotely during an extraordinary session on March 1, 2022.
Addressing the EP, Zelensky said that "A Ukraine that is winning is going to be member of the European Union."
EP President Roberta Metsola told Zelensky that "Ukraine is Europe and your nation's future is in the European Union," adding that the EU should give Ukraine the "fastest possible accession process".
He later told a joint press conference with von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel that he expected to start discussions on his country's EU accession this year and reiterated his request for more weapons, including long-range missiles.
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Von der Leyen said the EU had mobilized 67 billion euros ($72 billion) in support in the past year, "from budget support to fast recovery; from energy supply to military capabilities; from humanitarian aid to refugee support".
She said the EU will propose the 10th package of sanctions against Russia in the coming days, which will include additional export bans worth more than 10 billion euros.