Sun, 02 Apr 2023

Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv and across Ukraine on Friday before the start of a summit bringing together senior Ukrainian officials and EU representatives. President Volodymyr Zelensky is calling for fresh sanctions against Russia and saying he wants to hold talks "this year" on his war-battered country joining the bloc. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

9:48am: Air raid sirens sound in Kyiv before EU-Ukraine summit

Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv and across Ukraine on Friday before the start of a summit bringing together senior Ukrainian officials and EU representatives.

The bloc's chief Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Ukraine's capital Kyiv on Thursday with the EU's most senior diplomat, Josep Borrell, for talks on Ukraine's hopes to become an EU member.

8:21am: Ukraine 'likely to be disappointed' by summit

FRANCE 24's Ukraine correspondent Gulliver Cragg warned Friday that Ukraine was "likely to be disappointed" by the summit.

"The Ukrainians are piling on the pressure by continually insisting that they want accession negotiations to start this year," Cragg reported from Kyiv.

However, Ukraine is unlikely to obtain a fixed date for when negotiations to join the EU would start, said Cragg, suggesting that a date on accession negotiations might only be fixed in the autumn.

"The Europeans have got a certain number of very strong recommendations in terms of what Ukraine needs to do in its fight against corruption, and there's going to be a reporting back in an informal, oral way in springtime, and then in the autumn it may be that the date for the start of accession negotiations will be fixed for this year. I think the Ukrainians aren't losing hope about that."

Cragg also said the presence of so many top EU officials [15 European commissioners, the president of the commission, the president of the European council, Charles Michel] at the summit in Kyiv sent a "very strong signal" to Ukraine.

6:00am: Ukraine's allies pushing IMF to approve loan of $14-16 billion, according to Financial Times

Ukraine's allies are pushing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finalise plans for a multibillion-dollar lending programme, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

IMF representatives are planning to meet Ukrainian officials in mid-February to advance discussions over a loan that could range from $14 billion to $16 billion, the report said, citing officials familiar with the talks.

5:28am: Ukraine summit to deliver on some issues, disappoint on others

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, will hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday. Von der Leyen and other high-ranking EU officials held talks with Ukrainian officials after arriving in Kyiv on Thursday.

Zelensky called for more punitive measures against Russia by the European Union, but new sanctions the bloc is preparing are set to fall short of his government's demands.

"We reached a very important mutual understanding," Zelensky said of Thursday's talks. "That only together - a strong Ukraine and a strong European Union - can we defend the life that we value, and through our further integration, provide energy and motivation for our people to fight on regardless of obstacles and threats."

While the EU backs Ukraine and supports democratic and economic reforms there, it declines to offer a fast track to membership while Ukraine is at war. EU officials have listed multiple entry requirements, from political and economic stability to adopting various EU laws. The process is likely to take years.

EU leaders granted candidate status to Ukraine last year, just months after Russia's invasion.

12:00am: Germany approves Leopard 1 tanks delivery to Ukraine

The German government has approved the delivery of Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine from industrial stocks and is in talks over purchasing back 15 Gepard tanks from Qatar to send to Kyiv, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday.

The delivery of the Leopard tanks to Ukraine could happen anytime once the tanks are repaired, the newspaper reported, citing government sources.

Several German officials discussed with Qatar's foreign ministry a possible purchase of 15 Gepard tanks that Doha had bought to secure the World Cup stadiums, the newspaper said, adding that Berlin was trying to get more ammunition from Qatar. "The Gepards have proven themselves very well in the war in Ukraine. If we could get more from partners here, that would definitely help the Ukrainians," new German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

10:35pm: Putin's 'extraordinarily delusional' on Stalingrad speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech at an event marking the Soviet victory over Nazi forces in Stalingrad, in which he said that Russia is threatened by German tanks like it was during the Second World War, was "extraordinarily delusional", said FRANCE 24 chief foreign editor Robert Parsons. "Let's remember Russia invaded Ukraine [...]; it is Russian troops, Russian tanks, Russian aircraft that are on the territory of Ukraine."

Ukraine is defending itself with "weapons supplied by the West, but it's not the same as to say Ukraine [is] attacking Russia", Parsons underlined.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

More Stockholm News

Access More

Sign up for Stockholm News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!