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Looking for support, Zelensky continues his European diplomatic marathon

Photo: Jens Büttner Agence France-Presse German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (second from left) meet with German and Ukrainian soldiers at a military training ground in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, on Tuesday .

Felix Étienne

Published at 4:20 p.m.

  • Europe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued his European tour on Tuesday. After speaking to German MPs, he obtained several promises of support from his Western allies, including increased financial support and the initiation of the process of joining the European Union.

“Russia’s greatest strategic advantage in Ukraine is its air superiority,” President Zelensky told deputies of the Bundestag [the lower house of the German Parliament]. “It is the terror inspired by missiles and bombs that helps Russian troops advance on the ground. »

The Ukrainian president's speech to the Bundestag received a standing ovation from the vast majority of MPs present. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised that “the allies would support Ukraine for as long as necessary” and urged the allies to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses. German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has also promised his government's unlimited support for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

The only downside: the speech of Mr. Zelensky was boycotted by elected officials from the Alternative for Germany (AfD, far right) and the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW, populist left). These two parties, opposed to sanctions targeting Russia, criticized arms deliveries to Ukraine and instead called on the two states to negotiate a ceasefire. A hypothesis rejected by Chancellor Scholz, who declared that he did not want a “military victory nor a peace dictated” by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This visit by the Ukrainian president comes as Russian bombings are seriously damaging the country's infrastructure.

The same day, the Ukrainian energy supplier Ukrenergo imposed gas rationing. electricity to the entire territory from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. According to President Zelensky, Russian strikes in recent months have destroyed 80% of thermal production and a third of hydroelectricity production. In total, Ukrainian electricity production has reportedly been cut in half since the winter.

Serial diplomatic summits

President Zelensky, who also attended a conference for the reconstruction of Ukraine in Berlin, obtained further pledges of support from the European Union. On the first day of the conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that Ukraine would receive €1.9 billion ($2.8 billion Canadian) in financial aid this June and €1.5 billion ($2.2 billion Canadian) in July. These funds, taken from the interest on Russian financial assets subject to European sanctions, will largely be used to finance the Ukrainian war effort.

The announcement of this new financial support comes the day after the resignation of the director of the Agency for the Restoration of Ukraine, Mustafa Nayyem. The latter explained his departure by the mismanagement of financial aid granted by Ukraine's Western allies. This departure comes on the heels of the dismissal of Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, who was publicly concerned about corruption surrounding the distribution of Western aid in Ukraine.

Ms von der Leyen also confirmed that discussions on Ukraine's accession to the European Union would begin by the end of the month, with Ukraine having completed the necessary legislative reforms to adapt its legal and political regime to the European standards. The former Soviet republic submitted its application for membership on February 28, 2022, four days after the start of the Russian invasion.

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Financial aid to Ukraine will also be on the agenda at the G7 summit, which will be held in Italy from Thursday to Saturday. The seven member states will try to find common ground for the use of the interests of Russian assets frozen by Western sanctions.

This very busy week on the diplomatic level will conclude on Saturday and Sunday with a summit on peace in Ukraine which will take place in Switzerland, in the presence of President Zelensky. The ten-point peace plan presented by the latter at the end of 2022 should be at the heart of the discussions, but in the absence of Russia at the discussion table, we hardly expect any major progress in terms of peace. a resolution of the conflict this weekend.

Russia in fact rejects any diplomatic solution that does not recognize the unilateral annexation of the Ukrainian territories that it has occupied since 2022, while Ukraine demands a total withdrawal by Russia from the territories occupied since 2014. The other largely absent from this diplomatic summit is China, accused by many of supporting the Russian offensive, by helping Russia to circumvent Western sanctions.

With Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116