“Tens of thousands of people were probably killed in the Russian assault on the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.” This was stated today by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a speech to the South Korean parliament and asked Seoul for any military assistance it can provide, Reuters reported.
“Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands killed, but the Russians still do not stop their offensive,” Zelensky said in a video message. Reuters notes that it has confirmed extensive destruction in Mariupol, but cannot verify the Ukrainian president’s estimate of the death toll in the city, which lies between pro-Russian separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine and Russian-annexed Crimea.
Zelensky did not specify what weapons were needed but said Ukraine needed a variety of military equipment, including planes and tanks. “The Republic of Korea can help Ukraine,” he was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency. “South Korea has military equipment that can stop Russian ships and missiles,” he added.
South Korean Defense Minister So Uk and Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov held a telephone conversation Friday at Reznikov’s request. He thanked So for sending humanitarian aid and supplies and asked South Korea to send anti-aircraft weapons, the Seoul Defense Ministry said today.
European leaders have arrived in Ukraine
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borel have arrived in Kyiv to express their support for President Volodymyr Zelensky and give him assurances that they support Ukraine’s bid for membership in the union, Reuters reported.
After traveling by train from Brussels to Kyiv, the EC president told reporters that the most important message he would send to Zelensky was that “there will be a European path” for Ukraine. “It usually takes years before the European Council accepts an application for membership from a country, but Ukraine has only been able to do so in a week or two, so I want to move this issue forward as soon as possible,” she said. “Our goal is to submit Ukraine’s application to the council this summer.”
Six weeks after the Russian invasion, Von der Layen promised support for Ukraine to “come out of the war as a democracy”, something that Von der Layen said the EU and other donors would help Kyiv.
The message was echoed by EU number one diplomat Josep Borrell, who told reporters that the visit was a sign that “Ukraine controls its territory” and the government is still in control.
“Ukraine still has a government that accepts people from abroad, and it can still travel to Kyiv,” Borel said, adding that he hoped the EU would provide another 500m euros to Ukraine in the coming days. Borrell said the visit would also provide an opportunity to present measures the EU has taken to “isolate Russia” over the invasion of Ukraine.
Zelensky calls on the EU to take tougher sanctions against Russia, including by banning the purchase of Russian gas and oil and wants the union to grant full membership to his country.
Borrell said that the issue of sanctions against oil imports is a matter of great controversy within the European Union due to fears that such a move could cause a painful rise in oil prices for European economies. He said the issue would be raised in Brussels on Monday.
Borel and Von der Leyen are the next Western leaders to visit Kyiv after the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic arrived in Kyiv last month to meet with Zelensky.
The EU has returned its ambassador to Ukraine to Kyiv, Borel said during a visit, a move that reflects the improved security situation and the 27-nation EU’s commitment to Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.
According to the first EU diplomat, the return of the ambassador will allow for more direct and closer cooperation between Brussels and Kyiv. Borrell described it as “impressive” that the Ukrainian government is fully operational in such difficult conditions.
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