EU council president Charles Michel has praised the “bravery” of Ukraine in its war with Russia.
He was speaking at the Crimea Platform Summit on Tuesday.
The former Belgian PM said, “Crimea is Ukraine. I start with the same, clear message I had the opportunity to convey last year when I took part in the first Crimea Platform, in Kyiv. The European Union does not and will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine did not start on 24 February; it started in 2014, with the illegal annexation of Crimea. And this was the beginning of Russia’s aggressive and unlawful acts against your country, and against your people.
“This war has caused unspeakable suffering for millions of Ukrainian families. And since February, Russia has used Crimea as a strategic springboard to invade other parts of Ukraine from the south and to attack Ukraine with indiscriminate missile strikes. Russia is also using the peninsula as a transit point to deport Ukrainian citizens to infamous filtration camps, where acts of torture and abuse have been reported.”
Michel added, “Crimea has become a transportation hub for grain stolen from other parts of Ukraine, and Russia’s military presence in Crimea has enforced its blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports. And we have seen the brutal consequences: damage to the Ukrainian economy and a global food security crisis, especially in vulnerable countries. Let’s be clear, this is a deliberate and cynical choice by the Kremlin, a deliberate decision to weaponise hunger and to try to weaken international support for Ukraine. That’s why we welcome the recent grain deal signed in Istanbul and the departure of the first commercial ships from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. And we commend the UN Secretary-General’s action to make this deal a reality. We will remain extremely vigilant to make sure Russia implements this deal fully and in good faith.”
“We also want to express our grave concerns about the repeated shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.”
“Russia’s actions are risking a nuclear disaster, and this is a moment for caution and restraint. We fully support the efforts made by Secretary-General Guterres and the United Nations. Russia must immediately give access to UN experts, and we also support establishing a demilitarised zone around the nuclear power plant.”
He concluded, “The European Union has been rock solid in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity since 2014. Our support for your country is unprecedented.”
“We have repeatedly condemned this war in the strongest possible terms, we have called out Russia’s atrocities against Ukrainian civilians, and we have demanded that Russia fully respect international humanitarian law.
“We are also actively supporting the ICC investigation into war crimes and we have adopted the most hard-hitting sanctions ever against Russia. We have bolstered our already substantial support to Ukraine with humanitarian aid, with macro-financial assistance, with support for refugees and with unprecedented military support. We are also committed to Ukraine’s bright and prosperous future and we are ready to play a major role in international efforts for the reconstruction of Ukraine. Dear President Zelenskyy, since March, the European Council has clearly stated that Ukraine belongs to our European family, and in June, we formally granted Ukraine candidate status.”
“Let me repeat one more time, loud and clear: your future lies within the European Union, and your bravery is an example for all of us.”
” The EU is right by your side in these dramatic times, and we will stay there for as long as it takes. I call on all countries around the world to clearly condemn Russia’s illegal actions. Ukraine’s full territorial integrity, within its internationally recognised borders, must be restored. Crimea is Ukraine. You can count on us. Slava Ukraini.”