Ukraine on Monday asked to be admitted to the European Union immediately in a bid to shore up security as Ukrainian forces fight Russian troops for the fifth day and leaders begin possible peace talks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address that Ukraine has a right to join the EU as its 28th member, and suggested a “special procedure” to get the admission done.
“We appeal to the European Union to immediately admit Ukraine as a member under a new special procedure,” he said in his address, according to Newsweek.
“I’m convinced Ukraine has earned the right and that this is possible,” he added.
Zelensky said late on Sunday that the next 24 hours would be a critical period for Ukrainian forces and civilians who are attempting to repel Russian troops. He made the remarks in a discussion with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
In an interview with Euronews, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU wants Ukraine to join, but offered no timetable for when that could happen. She called Ukraine “one of us and we want them in the European Union.”
The commission recently said that it would send weapons to Ukraine, block Russian-supported media operating in the EU and prohibit Russia from using its airspace.
Von der Leyen said as for Ukraine joining the European Union, the body will respect its established process, such as integrating the Ukrainian market into the single market.
“We have very close cooperation on the energy grid, for example,” she said, according to Euronews. “So many topics where we work very closely together and indeed over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in.”
Russian troops on Monday seized two cities in southeastern Ukraine and an area near a nuclear power plant, according to the Russian Interfax news agency. Elsewhere, however, they encountered strong resistance from Ukrainian forces.
Russian forces have made advances at several points along the Ukrainian border since President Vladimir Putin ordered the start of the invasion last Thursday. Rocket fire and shelling have caused substantial damage across the country, and a number of videos posted to social media have shown small missiles striking civilian areas.