‘An Issue of Days, Not Months’. EU Leaders Pledge to Increase Support to Ukraine

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The discussions of European leaders at the summit in Brussels were supposed to focus on domestic affairs. Tensions in the Middle East and Russia’s intensified attacks on Ukraine played their role: the 27 leaders devoted the first day of talks to international crises. EU leaders at the summit in Brussels said they were working to address “urgent challenges” of Ukraine defense amid a rise in Russian air attacks across the country. Volodymyr Zelensky joined his European counterparts via video link. The Ukrainian leader thanked Germany once again as Berlin announced on Saturday that it was sending a new Patriot system to help Ukraine counter Russian raids on its cities and energy infrastructure. Zelensky urged other Western countries to “follow suit” amid a “critical” situation on the front. The Ukrainian President also stressed that the deadly Russian strike on Chernihiv demonstrated the urgency of the situation. “The [air defense] systems you have are needed in Ukraine to prevent Putin from using his terrorist methods,” he added, drawing a parallel with how Israel repelled the Iranian drone attack. “Here in Ukraine, in our part of Europe, we unfortunately do not have the level of defense that we all saw in the Middle East a few days ago [...]. Ukrainian skies and the skies of our neighbors deserve the same security,” he added. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said, “This is not an issue of months, but of days and weeks. It is very important that we fulfil our promises. In addition, I can assure you that all stakeholders, all actors are doing everything possible to speed up the process, to make more efforts. If possible, also to make more use of existing stocks, especially in the area of air defense systems. EU member states also agreed on the need for de-escalation in the Middle East, an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the delivery of humanitarian aid to the hungry and the release of all hostages. “We call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint. This is a very clear message, and it is indeed our common position,” Charles Michel summarized. Euronews correspondent Shona Murray reports from Brussels: “Brussels recognizes that the war in Ukraine and the Middle East threatens geopolitical stability, but on Thursday, the second day of the summit, EU leaders will be discussing internal issues - how to revive the single market and protect the European economy amid turbulence.”