EU’s von der Leyen visits Kiev ahead of accession progress report

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, Britain, November 2, 2023. Joe Giddens/Pool via Reuters/File Photo Rights License

KYIV, Nov 4 (Reuters) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv on Saturday ahead of a report the EU is due next week on Ukraine’s progress in its membership bid.

Posting a picture of himself next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a train station, von der Leyen wrote on the social networking platform X: “I’m glad to be back in Kiev for the sixth wartime visit.”

“I am here to discuss Ukraine’s path to EU accession. EU financial support to rebuild Ukraine as a modern and prosperous democracy. And how we will make Russia pay for its war of aggression.”

An EU assessment due on Wednesday is expected to detail how far Ukraine has progressed in meeting various economic, legal and other criteria to pave the way for the start of accession talks in December.

Ukraine, which applied to join the European Union in February 2022 days after Russia’s massive invasion, sees joining the trading bloc as its top priority.

The EU’s 27 members are due to decide at a meeting in December whether to allow Kiev to open accession talks, a move that would require the unanimous support of all EU members.

Ukraine’s bid received a boost on Thursday when German Foreign Minister Analena Baerbock said she was confident the bloc would move forward with Ukraine’s request next month.

Membership negotiations usually take years and involve extensive legal, political and economic reforms. The situation in Ukraine has become much more difficult due to the ongoing war in its south and east, with no end in sight.

Von der Leyen’s trip comes as Ukrainian forces are reeling with fatigue and concerns about the future of US military aid, on which Kyiv relies heavily.

Parliamentary Deputy Yaroslav Zhelezniak said on his Telegram channel that von der Leyen is expected to address the Ukrainian parliament.

Olena Harmash’s report; Edited by Tom Balmforth and Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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