The essentials in brief:
- Selenskyj emphasizes the importance of his country for the EU
- Sanchez assures “unmistakable support
- Lambsdorf does not see the moment for diplomacy as yet
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed confidence in his country’s European future. It has always been impossible to imagine a “common house in Europe” without Ukraine, but now Kiev has achieved that, even at the political level, European affairs are no longer thought of without Ukraine, he said in his daily video speech on Saturday evening.
An important gesture
The visit of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on the first day of Spain’s EU Presidency was an important gesture in this regard, he added. He thanked Madrid for the political, economic and military aid and for taking in refugees. However, he is confident that they will soon be able to return home once it is safe there again. Part of this security is Ukraine’s entry into NATO, which Kiev is aiming for. He thanked Spain for supporting Ukraine’s NATO ambitions, Zelenskyy said.
The Ukrainian head of state gave his speech in the north-west of the country at the Rivne nuclear power plant. There he had a briefing with military and political decision-makers, among other things on the safety of nuclear power plants, said Zelenskyj. In recent weeks, Kiev has repeatedly accused Moscow of provoking a nuclear incident at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russians. Russia denies these allegations.
Support without ifs and buts
On the first day of Spain’s EU Council Presidency, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged the “unmistakable” support of the European Union to Ukraine. Spain also supports “strengthening the NATO partnership with Ukraine, including the establishment of a NATO-Ukraine Council,” emphasized Sanchez.
Sanchez traveled to Kiev on the very first day of his country’s EU Council Presidency. His visit underscores the EU’s “clear and unequivocal political commitment” to Ukraine, he stressed. The Ukrainian EU membership application is one of the most important topics of the Spanish EU Council Presidency in the next six months.
NATO meets in Lithuania in mid-July
Ukraine was granted EU candidate status a year ago and hopes to start formal negotiations on its application for membership this year. At a joint press conference, the Spanish Prime Minister spoke of the EU Commission’s encouraging interim assessment of Kiev’s progress. The Spanish Prime Minister’s visit to Zelenskyy took place in the run-up to the NATO summit on July 11 and 12 in Lithuania, which Zelenskyy will be attending for the first time.
However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had already made it clear in mid-June that the western defense alliance would not be inviting Ukraine to join at the summit in Vilnius. Instead, a new NATO-Ukraine Council is to be set up to enable negotiations on transatlantic security “at eye level”.
Diplomacy will have to wait
The future German ambassador in Moscow, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, has canceled peace talks with Moscow in the Ukraine war at the moment. In an interview with “Welt am Sonntag”, the FDP politician said: “At the moment both warring parties, Ukraine and Russia, are looking for their advantage on the battlefield. As long as this is the case, diplomacy will remain in the background.”
Kuleba speaks of Russian air sovereignty
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sees Russian air sovereignty as one of the three main problems in his country’s counter-offensive. The area, which was heavily mined by the Russians, and the heavily fortified Russian defense lines were difficult to overcome, he told the media “Bild”, “Welt” and “Politico”, which belong to the Axel Springer publishing house. “And third, our armed forces suffer greatly from the lack of anti-air, anti-helicopter, and anti-aircraft weapons on the ground.”
Western allies’ decision to deliver fighter jets could have been made earlier, but he is now asking partners to speed up deliveries. Kuleba criticized comments about the lack of progress on the counteroffensive: “We feel frustrated by those who are now saying: oh, this is not going well.”
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from the combat zones cannot be independently verified.
haz/AL (dpa, rtr, afp)