Ukrainian president discusses need for tanks with European Council head

The Ukrainian president on Thursday discussed Kyiv’s need for tanks from its foreign partners with the head of the European Council who arrived in the country earlier in the day on an official visit.

"The issue of tanks remains relevant and very sensitive. It depends on many reasons and, unfortunately, it does not depend on the desire of Ukraine.

"We press politically as best we can, but most importantly, we press with reason,” Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a news conference with Charles Michel following their meeting in Kyiv, according to the state news agency Ukrinform.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine needs an appropriate or adequate number of weapons in its fight against Russia, noting that many countries have already expressed their readiness to provide tanks to Ukraine, but they are waiting for permission from the respective states.

“Poland is ready, while Finland, Portugal, Spain and a sufficient number of countries are ready to provide even a small number of tanks that they have in service. And they were ready to do it earlier. We are all waiting for the consent of the country that has the rights for certain relevant licenses," he said.

Zelenskyy further noted that Ukraine not only counts on the help of its partners, but is also working on the production of its own weapons, while saying the country does not yet have enough weapons provided by its partners and that the speed of these deliveries are not fast enough.

For his part, Michel said Ukraine has and should continue to receive heavy weapons and air defense systems because the next weeks could be decisive in the war, making such decisions necessary.

"You can rely on the EU - we will continue our unshakable support, we will always be with you side by side, because we share a common dream," Michel said.

- Ukraine’s accession to the EU

During the news conference, Zelenskyy also talked about Ukraine’s EU membership process, saying this is their goal which he is certain they will achieve.

"Ukraine and the EU have already achieved important results in our historic rapprochement. But, we are working to achieve much more. Our goal is full membership of Ukraine in the EU.

"I am confident that we will achieve this goal. And I thank the president (Michel) for supporting our institutional development and for his high assessment of Ukraine's implementation of the relevant recommendations of the European Commission," he said.

He further noted that they hope to start negotiations this year, adding that all necessary prerequisites for Kyiv's accession to the EU are present and that Ukraine is motivated to move forward with these steps.

Meanwhile, Michel said the EU is determined to work directly and closely with Ukraine with the hope that both sides move forward in ensuring that they do their part as quickly as possible.

“Several months ago, we granted you the status of a candidate for EU membership. We are determined to work directly and closely with you, Volodymyr (Zelenskyy), with our teams to move forward and to ensure that everyone does their part as quickly as possible. We hope to receive the EU's report very soon and complete the next phase," he said.

Ukraine applied for EU membership on Feb. 28, 2022, following the start of Russia’s "special military operation" against the country that began four days earlier.

The European Commission issued its opinion on the application of Ukraine's EU membership on Jun. 17 last year, after which the European Council granted Kyiv the candidacy status and said it would decide on further steps once all conditions of the European Commission's regular enlargement package are fully met.

On Dec. 14, 2022, Ukraine’s parliament adopted several bills recommended by the European Commission to further the country's EU accession process.

- 10th sanctions package against Russia

In the news conference, Michel also said the EU has started consultations on the 10th package of sanctions against Russia and that they want to involve as many countries as possible to further isolate Moscow.

"I can confirm that we have started consultations on a possible 10th package of sanctions, and we have decided to specifically impose sanctions on the energy sector. Of course, after nine packages of sanctions, a new 10th package is needed, and we need to see in which other sectors we can introduce sanctions," Michel noted.

"Another part of our effort is to involve as many countries as possible to further isolate Russia, so that we all put pressure on the countries that help Russia circumvent sanctions," he noted, adding that it is important not only to maintain pressure on the Kremlin, but to also increase it.

Last month, the EU adopted its ninth sanctions package against Russia, further expanding the scope of the existing sanctions and restrictive measures such as travel bans, banning Russian gold, oil, and coal imports, and the export of luxury goods and high-tech technology, and excluding Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system.

Source: Anadolu Agency