EU sanctions are needed before any possible Russian invasion happens, according to Ukraine’s president.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy was speaking following a meeting between European leaders and its Eastern Partnership members – Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“I managed to explain to our European colleagues that for us it is important to have sanctions applied before rather than after the beginning of any conflict…because if that happens, an escalation will not,” Zelensky said.
In the first meeting between all the parties since 2017, EU leaders were trying to revive their relationship with the five former Soviet republics.
The initial goal of the meeting was to reinforce relations with Brussels, but tensions with Russia stole the show.
There is now an expectation that the EU will give reassurances of support against any Russian aggression, following the “continuous destabilisation” of Europe’s eastern neighbours.
Before the summit, a series of bilateral meetings took place, mainly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as Russian troops continued to amass at its border with Ukraine.
EU leaders wanted to show their clear support for the territorial integrity of Kyiv, but the one-day summit in Brussels showed the limited success of Brussels’ approach to trying to bring its eastern partners into the fold.
Three of them have so far asked for membership: Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, but, as things stand, joining the club is highly unlikely, since Russia considers the region its backyard where it, of course, has security interests.
There was, however, one notable absentee, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who decided to suspend its Eastern Partnership membership earlier this year following sanctions imposed by the EU.