Four European leaders expressed their support for Ukraine during a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday, June 16, 2022, vowing to back Kyiv's candidacy to eventually join the European Union (EU) and offering more weapons to fend off Russia's invasion, according to John Leicester and Sylvie Corbet for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: (L-R) Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv
French President Emmanuel Macron promised Ukraine six more truck-mounted artillery guns, the latest in a new round of Western arms pledges as the conflict in the eastern Donbas region rages on.
France, Germany, Italy, and Romania are “are doing everything so that Ukraine alone can decide its fate,” Macron said at a news conference with Zelenskyy and others. “My colleagues and I have come here to Kyiv today with a clear message: Ukraine belongs to the European family,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The visit was significant because Ukrainians were concerned that Western resolve would wane. France, Germany, and Italy have all come under fire for continuing to engage with Russian President Vladimir Putin while failing to provide Kiev with the weapons it claims it requires.
With Scholz by his side, Macron defended earlier comments about not humiliating Russia that enraged Ukrainians. He solemnly observed that the end of World War I sowed the seeds of World War II.
“We are side by side today with Chancellor Scholz. One hundred years ago, we were at war and allies helped France win. France committed a historic mistake. It lost the peace because it wanted to humiliate Germany. The question of humiliation I always placed in a context to come, not the current context,” he said.
Scholz reiterated that there is no such intent to dictate anything to Ukrainians, and that only they “can decide what is right in terms of an agreement on a peace which we are unfortunately very, very far away from.”
Italian Premier Mario Draghi expressed concern about the millions of tons of grain backed up in Black Sea ports by the war, saying it could lead to a “worldwide catastrophe.” Italy has been a first destination for African migrants and could find itself overwhelmed in the case of large-scale hunger in the Southern Hemisphere.
“We want the atrocities to stop and we want peace,” Draghi said. “But Ukraine must defend itself, and it will be Ukraine that chooses the peace it wants.”