European Union foreign ministers have gathered in Kyiv for a meeting that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba hailed as “historic” as Russia continued its deadly artillery attacks on civilian settlements in Ukraine’s south.
“We are convening a historic meeting of EU Foreign Ministers here in Ukraine, candidate country and future member of the EU,” Borrell wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We are here to express our solidarity and support to the Ukrainian people,” he said.
Kuleba also welcomed the gathering, which he said was taking place within the bloc’s “future borders.”
“Glad to welcome EU foreign ministers at the historic meeting in Ukraine. For the first time in history, outside current EU borders. But also within its future borders. I am grateful to the European Union and personally to Josep Borrell for the unwavering EU support for Ukraine,” Kuleba said on X, where he also posted a photo of himself and Borrell shaking hands in Kyiv.
Ukraine was granted EU candidate member status in June last year, months after the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion. But the negotiations process is expected to take years before Kyiv can join the 27-member bloc.
The meeting in Kyiv came just hours after Russia overnight launched fresh artillery strikes on Kherson, killing at least one person and wounding several others, including children, and damaging an Orthodox cathedral in the southern Ukrainian city.
“Today, at about 5 a.m., the enemy shelled the center of Kherson. A fire broke out at the site of the attack, which was promptly extinguished by firefighters,” Kherson region’s Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Telegram. “As a result of Russian aggression, one person was killed, six more were wounded — two of them children.”
Russian shelling also damaged the Holy Spirit Cathedral and the administration of the Kherson Diocese, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reported on October 2.
“The projectiles hit the basement of the diocesan administration, as well as the cathedral, as a result of which the central entrance, facade, sacristy, and utility rooms were damaged and the panes in the windows were broken,” the Kherson Diocese said in a message.
The liberated part of Kherson region, including the city of Kherson, has been shelled on a near-daily basis for months by Russian troops stationed on the left bank of the Dnieper River.
On October 1, Russian shelling of several settlements in Kherson killed a man in his 40s in Tyahynka, a town about 30 kilometers northeast of Kherson city.
Russia overnight also launched seven Iranian-made drones at the southern region of Dnipropetrovsk, military spokeswoman Natalyia Humenyuk told Ukrainian television, adding that four of them were downed by Ukraine’s air defense.
On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces continued their offensive actions in the Bakhmut area of the eastern Donetsk region and in the direction of the southern city of Melitopol, where 38 close-quarters battles were fought over the past 24 hours, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said in its daily report on October 2.
U.S. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, vowed on October 1 after signing a bill to avoid a government shutdown that aid for Ukraine that was dropped from the legislation would continue and said he expects Congress to pass the aid in separate legislation.
Biden said in an address from the White House that Kyiv can count on U.S. support.
“We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” he added.
Biden spoke after Congress averted a government shutdown by passing a short-term funding package late on September 29 and rushing it to the White House for his signature before the midnight deadline. But in order to ensure passage, legislators dropped assistance for Ukraine to help in its fight against Russia.
Biden is now urging Congress to negotiate an aid package as soon as possible, saying there’s “an overwhelming sense of urgency.”
He said he expects House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Republican-California) to keep his commitment to secure passage of support needed to help Ukrainians “defend themselves against aggression and brutality.”
Despite the growing signs of war fatigue in the U.S. Congress, Borrell said he was counting on the United States to keep up its unwavering security assistance to Ukraine.
“We believe this will not be the last word,” Borrell said in Kyiv on October 1. “I have the hope that this will not be the definite decision and that the United States will continue to support Ukraine.”
Borrell met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, saying afterward that the EU is preparing long-term security commitments for Ukraine.