April 14. 2024. 7:05

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Europe vows to back Ukraine for the long haul

The European Union has vowed to continue backing Ukraine “as long as it takes” for Kyiv to prevail, on the grim one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Standing in Tallinn alongside Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and Estonian prime Minister Kaja Kallas, on a day that also marks the independence day of the Baltic state once ruled under the Soviet Union, the head of the European Commission said now was the time to “double down” on support to Kyiv.

“Ukraine will prevail because Europe and its partners and its allies will stand firm,” commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.

The one-year anniversary finds the EU “as determined as ever to support Ukraine financially, economically, and militarily,” she said, describing the regime of Russian president Vladimir Putin as being under “strain”.

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‘I turned around and saw a bullet had hit her. And a red patch appeared straight away on her sweater’

‘I turned around and saw a bullet had hit her. And a red patch appeared straight away on her sweater’

“Now is the time to double down. We must keep giving Ukraine the means to defend itself until the Russians end this war and leave Ukraine.”

In a joint statement marking the anniversary, the 27 national leaders accused Russia of “systematically” targeting civilians in Ukraine and promised to hold those responsible for war crimes accountable.

The EU will stand with Ukraine “as long as it takes”, they said.

[ Ukraine protest: Russian tank parked outside embassy in Berlin ]

“Together with our international partners, we will make sure that Ukraine prevails, that international law is respected, that peace and Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders are restored, that Ukraine is rebuilt, and that justice is done,” the statement read.

They declared their backing for a peace plan put forward by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which requires Russia to withdraw its troops and restore Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.

A year after the EU leaders jointly confronted a new and darker era of history at an emergency summit in Brussels as tanks closed in on Kyiv, their ambassadors were working to seal their 10th package of sanctions against Russia in a bid to further isolate its economy.

The EU’s next step would be to use vaccine-style “joint procurement” to source ammunition for Ukraine, Dr von der Leyen said, as a maelstrom of fighting around the town of Bakhmut engulfs stockpiles.

[ CSO says number of Ukrainian refugees in Ireland nearing 75,000 ]

In a symbolic joint statement, the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, and Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said “Ukraine can and must win this war”.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg warned there were signs Russia was preparing “for more new offensives”, and cautioned China against supplying weapons to Russia. He said there were “signs they may be considering and planning” this, though Beijing has denied it.

“China should not do that, because that will be to support an illegal war of aggression, breaching international law and violating the UN Charter,” Mr Stoltenberg warned.

“President Putin can end this war today by withdrawing his forces, if he doesn’t do that, we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes.”