The leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Romania visited Kyiv on Thursday and pledged support for Ukraine in its war against Russia and for the country’s bid to join the EU.
“My colleagues and I have come here to Kyiv today with a clear message: Ukraine belongs to the European family,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the other leaders.
Ukraine formally applied to join the EU a few days after Russia invaded. Moscow has made clear that it doesn’t view Kyiv joining the bloc as much of a threat as Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. But even if all EU members approved of Ukraine’s membership, the process would still take years.
Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have all come under fire from Ukrainian officials for calling for negotiations to end the war. But the three leaders on Thursday signaled that they won’t pressure Ukraine to agree to any peace terms, such as ceding Crimea and the Donbas. Macron said the European leaders are “doing everything so that Ukraine alone can decide its fate.”
Macron has been the most outspoken of the bunch and has been criticized for his warning not to “humiliate” Russia. The French leader defended his stance, warning out efforts to humiliate Germany at the end of World War I led to the Second World War.
“We are side by side today with Chancellor Scholz. One hundred years ago, we were at war and allies helped France win. France committed a historic mistake. It lost the peace because it wanted to humiliate Germany. The question of humiliation I always placed in a context to come, not the current context,” Macron said.
During his visit, Macron pledged to send Ukraine six more truck-mounted artillery guns. Germany announced Wednesday that it will give Ukraine three Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) equipped with munitions that have a range of 70 kilometers (43 miles). The US and Britain recently announced they were sending similar rocket systems, which mark a significant escalation in NATO military aid to Ukraine.