The political leadership in Kyiv reacted angrily to statements by US President Joe Biden that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not take the threat posed by Russia seriously enough before the war began. At a fundraiser event Friday night in Los Angeles, Biden said there was evidence before February 24 that Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin was planning to invade Ukraine. Then he added: “There was no doubt. And Zelenskyy didn’t want to hear it – a lot of people didn’t want to hear it.”
“The phrase ‘didn’t want to hear’ certainly needs some explanation,” Ukrainian presidential spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov said on Saturday. Selenskyj has repeatedly called on international partners to impose preventive sanctions in order to force Russia to withdraw troops that were already stationed in the border region with Ukraine, Nykyforov told the online newspaper Liga.net. “And here you can say that our partners ‘didn’t want to hear us,'” he said.
Two weeks before the war began, Zelenskyy said his country had been living with a constant threat from Russia since 2014. At the time he complained that Western “alarmism” was doing the country more harm than good: “The enemy’s best friend is panic in our country.” In other words: Russia benefits when fear leads to destabilization in Ukraine. Before the turn of the year, Ukraine itself had warned of a possible attack by Russia.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held talks on Saturday in Kyiv on Ukraine’s application for EU membership. However, von der Leyen left open whether her authority would recommend that the 27 member states give Ukraine unrestricted status as a candidate for EU membership. In Kyiv, she praised the country’s parliamentary-presidential democracy and the well-functioning administration. At the same time, she called for reforms.
Based on the recommendation of the EU Commission, the EU states will decide how to proceed. The views of the countries on the subject have so far differed widely, although the decision on candidate status does not anticipate the admission decision and is also not linked to a time frame. For example, Turkey has been an EU accession candidate since 1999.
“A positive response from the European Union to Ukraine’s application for EU membership can be a positive answer to the question of whether there is any future for the European project,” said Zelenskyy. In repelling the Russian war of aggression, the Ukrainian people have “already made a huge contribution to the defense of common freedom”.