European Union leaders on Thursday condemned the “unspeakable suffering” Russia was inflicting on Ukraine but at a summit in France they refused Kyiv’s appeal for rapid accession to the bloc and differed over the reach of sanctions against Moscow.
The Russian invasion – the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two – has upended Europe’s security order and spurred EU capitals into rethinking what the bloc should stand for, its economic, defence and energy policies.
The EU was swift in imposing sweeping sanctions and offering political and humanitarian support to Ukraine, as well as some arms supplies, in the days after Russia attacked on Feb.24.
However, cracks have appeared in the bloc’s united front, from its reaction to Kyiv’s demand for an accelerated membership of the wealthy club to how fast it can wean itself off Russian fossil fuels and how best to shape an economic response.
“Nobody entered the European Union overnight,” Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said as talks among the 27 national leaders ended at wee hours on Friday.
The leaders chairman, Charles Michel said in a show of sympathy and moral support: “Ukraine belongs to the European family.”
But others made clear Ukraine would not be allowed to join hastily, something Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has sought and which has some support from Ukraine’s neighbours on the EU’s eastern flank.