Ukraine’s Zelenskiy issues fresh plea for Patriots, EU accession, NATO entry

By Thomson Reuters Apr 28, 2024 | 11:43 AM

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a fresh plea to the international community to hurry up and deliver more air defences, start formal talks for his country to enter the European Union, and invite Ukraine to join NATO.

Ukrainian forces face a worsening position in the east and await delivery of U.S. weapons following the April 23 approval by Congress of a $61 billion aid package after months of delay. Zelenskiy has repeatedly pleaded for further air defence systems, particularly the Patriot system.

Zelenskiy said he had just spoken with U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and thanked Congress for passing the aid package, but added that Ukraine was working with all partners to achieve a speed of deliveries that would allow Ukraine to maintain its positions and disrupt Russian war plans.

“We are still waiting for the supplies Ukraine was promised,” he said in his nightly video address on Sunday. “We are expecting those volumes and scope that can change the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine’s interests.”

He added, “In my conversation with Mr. Jeffries, I underscored that Patriot systems are needed, and as soon as possible.”

On entry to the European Union, Zelenskiy said Ukraine had met all conditions for accession talks to start, “and now the EU must meet its obligations”.

Ukraine, which has received strong support from most European nations since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of its territory two years ago, is a candidate to join the 27-member European Union, but the process will take years.

On entry to the NATO military alliance, which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on April 4 Ukraine would join eventually, Zelenskiy said that every country that shares common values and is ready to defend them “deserves an invitation to the alliance.”

He expressed optimism about the prospects for peace, referencing an upcoming peace summit set to take place in Switzerland June 15-16. Russia is not invited to the gathering and has dismissed any such meeting as meaningless without Moscow’s participation.

(Reporting, writing by Elaine Monaghan in Washington; Editing by Ros Russell)