Was that a welcome from Moscow? When the EU-Ukraine summit began in Kyiv on Friday morning, a nationwide air alert was suddenly triggered. Russian warplanes had been spotted in the air over Belarus, near the Ukrainian border. From there, rockets are regularly fired in the direction of Ukraine. But then, during the meeting between EU leaders and the Ukrainian government led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, everything remained calm.
EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had brought a few commitments from Brussels. "We will not let up in our determination," said Michel. As part of the EU military training mission for Ukraine, 30,000 instead of 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers are to be trained in Europe. In addition, 35 million energy-saving light bulbs are to be made available to Ukraine.
The Ukrainians could exchange their old light bulbs for LED lamps "at the post office," explained von der Leyen. "Every kilowatt of energy saved is valuable in countering Russia's energy war," she said. Significant parts of the power supply in Ukraine are only functioning to a limited extent, as Moscow repeatedly bombards critical infrastructure. EU officials also said that aid from Brussels to Kyiv has now totaled almost 50 billion euros.
Good news for Kyiv also came from Germany during the summit. The delivery of German battle tanks to Ukraine could be significantly larger than previously expected. The federal government has now approved industry exports of older Leopard 1s that were retired by the Bundeswehr 20 years ago, a government spokesman said without giving further details. So far, the federal government had only announced the delivery of the more modern Leopard 2 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks to Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia. The Rheinmetall company is said to have 88 Leopard 1 tanks.
There was little movement in the talks regarding Ukraine's accession to the EU. The country has officially been a candidate country since June 2022. Kyiv is now demanding rapid accession within the next two years. Zelenskyy said on Thursday that his country "deserved" that negotiations should start later this year. EU Council President Michel only said: "We will support you every step of the way on your way to the EU." It is now clear, however, that the Ukrainians have more hopes than justified. Michel and von der Leyen may have sent exaggeratedly positive signals to Kyiv in the past.
A senior Brussels official, who asked not to be named, said recently that Moldova is actually the number one candidate for accession at the moment. In many EU member states, there is also great skepticism about Ukraine's turbocharged accession. "It is very clear what still needs to be done," said EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi a few months ago. His agency intends to present a report on the reforms in Ukraine by the end of the year.
The head of the Europe Committee in the Bundestag, Anton Hofreiter (Greens), stated that accession in five or six years would be appropriate. It is hard to imagine taking in a country that is currently at war. In addition, Ukraine must do much better in fighting corruption and complying with the rule of law.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk has praised Germany. The "psychologically important" prospect of joining the EU is also thanks to Germany, says the former Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin to the WELT news channel.