Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told European Union foreign ministers on October 2 that Ukraine’s victory in the war with invading Russian forces depended “directly” on Kyiv’s cooperation with the EU as concerns grow about a possible weakening of support in the bloc after the election victory of a populist Slovak party that opposes military aid for Kyiv.
“I am sure that Ukraine and the entire free world are capable of winning this confrontation. But our victory directly depends on our cooperation with you: the more strong and principled steps we take with you, the sooner this war will end,” Zelenskiy said after meeting with EU foreign ministers gathered in Kyiv on October 2 in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.
Zelenskiy also told the gathering that sanctions pressure on Russia was “obviously not enough,” calling for more cooperation to end any “schemes of circumvention of sanctions by Russia” and an end to supplies to Russia that enable it to increase military production.
“This is a clear interest not only of Ukraine, but also of everyone in the world who wants a faster end to this war,” Zelenskiy said.
He also called for expanding sanctions against Iran, including on its ability to import equipment and chemicals used to make drones that it then supplies to Russia.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell hailed the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Kyiv as “historic” and a reiterated that the place of Ukraine was in the 27-member bloc.
“You can be sure of our determination to be by Ukraine’s side as long as it takes,” Borrell told Zelenskiy after the meeting.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the gathering took place within the bloc’s “future borders” and urged Ukraine’s allies to stand firm amid what he said was “huge resources” invested by the Kremlin to stir disunity.
“Putin’s greatest expectation is precisely that the West and the world will tire of standing on the side of Ukraine in this war,” he said.
In Washington, where Congress managed to avert a government shutdown over the weekend only by removing aid to Ukraine from a stopgap spending deal, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre also rejected claims about war fatigue in Western countries.
“If Putin thinks he can outlast us he’s wrong,” Jean-Pierre said.
Kuleba, referring to the election victory in neighboring Slovakia of pro-Russian Robert Fico, who vowed to immediately curb military aid to Ukraine if he became prime minister again, said Kyiv respected the result.
“We respect the choice of the Slovak people,” Kuleba said. “But it is too early to say how the election result will affect Slovakia’s position,” he added, pointing that Kyiv can “draw the first conclusions” after a coalition is formed — a complicated process that might take a long time.
Although Ukraine was granted EU candidate status in June 2022, months after the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion, the negotiation process is expected to take years before Kyiv can join the bloc, and there is opposition to its membership from countries such as Hungary.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has maintained close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has been against supplying weapons to Kyiv or admitting it into the 27-member bloc.
Neither Hungary’s nor Poland’s foreign ministers were present in Kyiv. Poland’s relations with Ukraine, usually warm, are currently strained due a spat about Ukrainian grain exports.
The two EU member states sent lower-level delegations to Kyiv.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on the other hand, told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that, as the cold season settles in, the EU needed to come up with a strategic plan to shield Kyiv from the consequences of an expected repeat of Russia’s campaign of strikes on Ukraine’s energy grid that caused misery and suffering last winter.
“Ukraine needs a winter protection plan of air defense, generators, and a strengthening of the energy supply. We saw last winter the brutal way in which the Russian president wages this war, with targeted attacks on critical infrastructure such as power plants,” she told reporters in Kyiv.
The meeting in Kyiv came just hours after Russia overnight launched fresh artillery strikes on Kherson, killing at least two people and wounding several others, including children, and damaging an Orthodox cathedral in the southern Ukrainian city.
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One of the dead was a policeman killed in shelling on the morning of October 2, and children were among those wounded in overnight attacks on the regional capital, Kherson, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Telegram.
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.