Ukrainian President Calls for EU Membership as Russian Invasion Intensifies

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pose for a picture as they meet at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 19, 2022. - During the 58th Munich Security Conference running from February 18-20, 2022, international diplomats and experts meet to discuss …
SVEN HOPPE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged European Union leaders to allow his country to join the controversial political bloc.

As heavy fighting permeates Ukrainian cities, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called on the European Union to admit his nation as a full member of the 27-nation confederacy.

Ukraine’s recent ambition for EU membership is well-established, with the country’s officials urging for itself, Moldova, and Georgia to be allowed in.

However, the Ukrainian president is now saying that the “crucial moment” for making a decision on the country’s membership has arrived, as it fends off an invasion from Russia.

“It is a crucial moment to close the long-standing discussion once and for all and decide on Ukraine’s membership in the EU,” President Zelensky wrote online.

He went on to note in the post that he discussed “further effective assistance and the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for their free future” with European Council president Charles Michel.

POLITICO, meanwhile, reports that Zelensky has spoken to leaders from across the bloc, including the Italian prime minister Mario Draghi, French president Emmanuel Macron, and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, following another day of heavy fighting in the country.

Thousands of Ukrainians are believed to have taken shelter underground during air raids and ground fighting, with tens of thousands making a break for the country’s borders to escape the war.

While it is unclear whether Ukraine is destined for EU membership, members of the bloc have clearly begun to mobilise in support of the embattled country.

Brussels — alongside the United States, Canada, and Britain — has reportedly barred a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system, making it more difficult for corporations in the country to do business.

Poland, meanwhile, is said to have taken in 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, on top of a further two million people who had already settled in the country in recent years.

Ireland has banned Russian aircraft from its airspace and a host of other countries within the EU have prohibited Russian flights from landing at their airports.

Some in Europe believe more measures need to be taken, however, with former Brexit negotiator and Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt MEP comparing the crisis to September 11th, saying that the EU needed to embrace its future as a military power or face destruction.

“The world will never be the same,” the Irish Times reported the European Parliament member as saying. “I have the same feeling today that I got after 9/11.”

Verhofstadt went on to say that the EU must reorganise into “a real continental power in economic, financial and military terms” or face destruction.

“That’s the world of so-called empires, super-powers, China, India, Russia, and the U.S.,” he said. “Europe has to take the lesson that we need to do a number of reforms to make it a real European Union, because it is not a union today.”

He concluded that the bloc must “dramatically change, or we will disappear into irrelevance, which is always possible in history.”

EU ambitions in Ukraine prior to and immediately following the Euromaidan overthrow of its Russia-aligned former president, Viktor Yanukovych, are believed by some on both the political left and right to have helped to precipitate Russia’s annexation of Crimea and initial intervention in the Donbas, however.

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