Zelenskiy seeks tougher sanctions against Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Thursday (February 2) for more punitive measures against Russia by the European Union and said he had discussed a new EU sanctions package with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Zelenskiy said at a joint news conference in Kyiv – with von der Leyen – that the speed of the EU sanctions campaign against Russia had “slightly slowed down” and should be stepped up.

Von der Leyen led over a dozen European Union officials in a visit to Kyiv on Thursday (February 2) for meetings intended to highlight support for Ukraine as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion nears.

But unwilling to admit a country at war, the EU is set to dash Ukraine’s hopes of being swiftly allowed membership, underlining the need for more anti-corruption measures.

Zelenskiy meanwhile welcomed the delegation to the presidential palace in Kyiv.

Members of the EU’s executive European Commission were due to meet members of the government on Thursday.

On Friday (February 3) Charles Michel, chairman of the 27 EU national leaders, will join Von der Leyen in a meeting with Zelenskiy.

The first such gathering in Kyiv since the war began last February follows new Western pledges of arms deliveries to help Ukraine resist an expected new Russian offensive. Moscow has criticized the pledges, saying new weapon deliveries will escalate the conflict but not change its course.

EU officials said talks would include discussions of more arms and money for Ukraine as well as more access for Ukrainian products to the EU market, helping Kyiv cover energy needs, sanctions on Russia, prosecuting Russia’s leadership for the war and extending an EU no-roaming mobile calls zone to Ukraine.