Ursula von der Leyen – 2022 Statement by Ursula von der Leyen with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy

The statement made by Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, in Kyiv on 8 April 2022.

Thank you, dear Volodymyr,

Let me start by saying that the missile attack this morning on a train station used for evacuations of civilians is despicable. I am appalled by the loss of life and I offer my deep condolences to the families of the victims and all of those who lost loved ones.

It was important to start my visit in Bucha today. Because in Bucha our humanity was shattered. And it is right and just that the world voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. This war is a challenge for the entire international community. And this is a decisive moment. Will heinous devastation win or humanity prevail? Will the right of might dominate or is it the rule of law? Will there be constant conflict and struggle or a future of common prosperity?

Your fight is our fight. I am here with you in Kyiv today to tell you that Europe is on your side. This is the message, dear Volodymyr, I want to bring to the Ukrainian people today.

We just discussed how to step it up Europe’s support. Let me be clear: We can never match the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people. But we are mobilising our economic power to make Putin pay a heavy price. We have imposed five waves of unprecedented sanctions against Russia. And we are already preparing the next wave. We are now moving into a system of rolling sanctions. And these sanctions are biting hard. Exports in goods to Russia have fallen almost 71%. Inflation is around 20% – and rising. Businesses confidence in Russia is at its lowest level since 1995. And the best and brightest minds are leaving the country, together with more than 700 private companies. On top of this, Member States have already frozen EUR 225 billion of private Russian assets in the EU since the beginning of the war. Russia will decent in economic, financial and technological decay. While Ukraine is marching towards a European future.

We stand with you as you defend your country. This is my second point. Ukrainian people are holding up the torch of freedom for all of us. The European Union is sending weapons to your country. We have allocated EUR 1 billion from the European Peace Facility to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And more will come. I am grateful the High Representative will now propose another EUR 500 million. In addition, EU Member States are delivering military equipment on an unprecedented scale. Slovakia is a shining example for that. With this we support the brave Ukrainian soldiers, fighting for Ukraine´s freedom. And for everyone’s freedom.

Third, we are strengthening our financial help for Ukraine. Today, we are delivering on EUR 1 billion of support. This sum consists of three different financial packages. As we speak, we are transferring EUR 120 million in budget support. We will make available the EUR 330 million from our emergency package now. Both are grants. And we are accelerating the second half of the macro-financial assistance package with EUR 600 million.

Fourth, we are with Ukrainians as they seek refuge within our borders. And I promise you: We will take good care of them until it is safe to return home. Home to a free and prosperous Ukraine. We make sure, that they have access to housing, schools, medical care and work. The brave people of Ukraine deserve nothing less. Together with Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, of Canada we are convening a pledging event in Warsaw tomorrow. We call our campaign ‘Stand up for Ukraine’. We will mobilise support for people fleeing the war inside and outside Ukraine. This campaign is yet another proof that Ukraine´s cause today is the world´s cause.

Finally, we are with you as you dream of Europe. Dear Volodymyr, my message today is clear: Ukraine belongs in the European family. We have heard your request, loud and clear. And today, we are here to give you a first, positive answer. In this envelope, dear Volodymyr, there is an important step towards EU membership. This questionnaire is the basis for our discussion in the coming months. This is where your path towards the European Union begins. We will be at your disposal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to work on this common basis. Ukraine is a friend, we know this very well. Ukraine shares our values. And due to our association agreement, Ukraine is already closely aligned with our Union. So we will accelerate this process as much as we can, while ensuring that all conditions are respected.

On the first day of your mandate, dear Volodymyr, you said: ‘We have chosen Europe as our direction. But Europe’, you said, ‘Europe is not somewhere else. Europe is here in our mind. And when Europe is in our mind, then Europe will come to our country too.’

Today, more than ever, Europe is here. Europe is with you.

Slava Ukraini.