Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky reminded EU leaders that a free Europe could not exist without a free Ukraine, as he appealed for more armaments to help Kyiv defend itself against invading Russian soldiers.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday. Olivier Matthys/AP
"Europe should not have grey zones; our entire continent should be open to European destiny," Zelensky said on February 9 during an EU conference in Brussels, where he also called for Ukraine's membership in the European Union to be expedited.
Zelensky stated that Ukraine "never desired, never provoked" Russia's full-scale conflict about a year ago and that the conclusion of the war was linked to the security of Europe as a whole.
"European unity is critical to security," Zelensky said, adding that "a free Europe cannot be conceived without a free Ukraine."
The visit on February 9 was the latest in Zelensky's surprise tour of Europe to campaign for additional weaponry and EU membership to bolster Ukraine's defence, and it occurred as Russian forces allegedly increased strikes in Ukraine's east ahead of an expected onslaught.
Following trips to the United Kingdom and France the day before, Zelensky was able to meet with all 27 European Union leaders during his trip to Brussels. Josep Borrell, who organizes EU summits, stated without elaborating that EU leaders will commit further military assistance to Ukraine.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has gotten commitments from Western countries to provide combat tanks to strengthen its military, but it has also requested even more modern equipment, like fighter planes and longer-range missiles.
At a news conference following the summit, Zelensky stated that he had heard from "a number of European leaders...about their preparedness to provide us with the necessary weaponry and support, including planes."
Zelensky did not name the leaders but stated that "France and Germany have the capacity to be game changers, and that's how I see our meetings today."
"The sooner we obtain powerful long-range weaponry and sophisticated planes for our pilots...the sooner this Russian assault will cease," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated.
Before the conference, Zelensky addressed the European Parliament, standing in front of the Ukrainian flag, that his country was battling "against the strongest anti-European force of the contemporary world."
He also thanked EU parliamentarians for the assistance supplied since Russia's invasion more than 11 months ago.
"Thank you," Zelensky remarked after receiving a standing ovation from EU parliamentarians. "We Ukrainians are defending ourselves on the battlefield with you..."
He also promised that "Ukraine would be part of the European Union, a triumphant Ukraine" one day.
In an apparent reference to certain EU nations' worries that Ukraine must achieve specific requirements, such as battling corruption, before EU accession discussions can begin, European Council President Charles Michel stated that "the path to peace, restoration, and membership will be a long, hard one."
Michel, on the other hand, assured Zelensky that "we'll be with you every step of the way" and that the council will offer an update on Ukraine's accession process before the end of the year.
While speaking to Zelensky, EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola stated, "you need to win, and now (EU) member states must consider rapidly as the next step giving long-range systems and the planes that you need to safeguard your freedoms."
Zelensky particularly requested fighter planes from Western leaders during his visit to the British Parliament on January 8.
At a press conference the same day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated that the United States' efforts to accelerate the transfer of Western weaponry to Ukraine left no opportunity for diplomacy.
"I don't see any possibility of a fruitful political and diplomatic process," Ryabkov added. "We have a very profound and unprecedented crisis in Russia-U.S. ties. The Biden administration has brought them to a halt."
In response to the deployment of modern weaponry to Ukraine, Ryabkov stated that "the Americans must completely and seriously evaluate the consequences associated with their brazenly reckless path."
Zelensky's journey is said to be just his second overseas travel since Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine over a year ago, and it comes as Russian forces aim to make a breakthrough in Ukraine's east ahead of a major operation.
Ukraine territorial control.
On February 9, the governor of the Luhansk area, Serhiy Hayday, stated that Russian soldiers were attempting to breach Ukrainian lines at Kreminna. Control of the town would bring Russian soldiers within 70 kilometres of Kramatorsk, a considerably bigger Donetsk area city.
"I can confirm a considerable rise in assaults and shelling," Hayday told Ukrainian television. "And they are attempting to capitalize on their victory by breaking through our defenders' fortifications in the direction of Kreminna."
Hayday went on to remark that Russian forces had not had "much success" and that "our defensive forces are firmly there."
On February 9, Ukraine's General Staff said that over 900 Russian soldiers had perished the day before, making it one of the deadliest days of the conflict, which commenced with Russia's full-scale invasion on February 24.
According to a subsequent allegation on February 9, the Russian military set up a mobile cremation in Tokmak, in the southern Zaporizhzhya area, to conceal the number of dead. According to the report, local people have complained about the stink, particularly at night.
According to Western media, the number of Russian servicemen killed or injured in the fight is reaching 200,000.
Russia does not provide data on its military deaths on a regular basis.