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June 23, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Helen Regan, Hafsa Khalil, Jeevan Ravindran, Aditi Sangal, Ed Upright and Adrienne Vogt, CNN
EU candidates "have to do homework" before moving to the next stage, commission president says
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Chris Liakos
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that European Union candidate countries have “homework” to do before the next stage of the of the accession process.
Speaking during a short press conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel following EU’s decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status, she said:
“The countries all have to do homework before moving to the next stage of the accession process but I am convinced that they will all move as swiftly as possible and work as hard as possible to implement the necessary reforms.”
She added that today’s decision strengthens Ukraine and Moldova, plus Georgia — which the EU is ready to grant candidate status once the outstanding priorities are addressed — “in the face of Russian aggression and it strengthens the European Union because it shows once again to the world that the European Union is united and strong in the face of external threats”
“It’s a very strong message which is being sent out. A message of unity, of determination in political terms,” Michel added.
EU says it will "swiftly work on a further increase of military support" to Ukraine
From CNN’s Chris Liakos
The EU says it will “swiftly” work on increasing military support to Ukraine and will work on further financial assistance.
In a news release following the first day of the two-day EU Summit, the European Council said, “The European Union remains strongly committed to providing further military support to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression and defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty. To this end, the European Council calls on the Council to swiftly work on a further increase of military support.”
The European Council also urged Russia to “immediately stop targeting agricultural facilities and removing cereals, and to unblock the Black Sea, in particular the port of Odesa, so as to allow the export of grain and commercial shipping operations,” blaming Russia for the global food security crisis.
“Russia, by weaponising food in its war against Ukraine, is solely responsible for the global food security crisis it has provoked,” it said.
The European Council also condemned “Russia’s indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure,” adding that “international humanitarian law, including on the treatment of prisoners of war, must be respected.”
“Russia, Belarus and all those responsible for war crimes and the other most serious crimes will be held to account for their actions, in accordance with international law,” it said.
Zelensky: "This is a victory. We waited 120 days and 30 years" for EU candidate status
From CNN's Victoria Butenko and Julia Presniakova
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the European Council decision to grant Ukraine candidate status a “victory."
In a video posted on Instagram immediately after the announcement, he said:
“We have just received the candidacy. This is a victory we had waited for 120 days and 30 years. After that we will defeat the enemy and get some rest. Or maybe we shall rebuild Ukraine first and get some rest afterwards."
Zelensky added, "And maybe shall will even win, rebuild, join the EU and then rest. Or maybe we won’t be getting rest. Though children would disagree with that. But we will definitely win.”
French President Macron says today's decision sends "a strong signal to Russia"
From CNN's Chris Liakos and Arnaud Siad
Speaking at a news conference alongside European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Macron said that today’s decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status sends “a strong signal to Russia.”
“The message that is sent today very clearly and we just saw it with President Zelensky. It's a very strong message, coherent with what our Europe since day one of the conflict has known to do. Which is: reacting swiftly, in a historic way and united. Through sanctions, two days later and six times since then. Through macroeconomic, military and financial support to Ukraine. And now through this political gesture,” Macron said.
“This strong united Europe has been up to the task,” he added.
“More broadly today, it's a European perspective that we recognize to Ukraine, Moldavia and Georgia. Which is a very strong signal to Russia and in the geopolitical context we mentioned and the choice made for Ukraine and Moldavia to be granted this candidate status to the European Union,” he added.
“We owed this to the Ukrainian people which is fighting to defend our values, their sovereignty and territorial integrity. And we also owed it to Moldavia regarding its political situation, of the destabilization attempts it is experiencing, and the generosity it showed in the context we just mentioned,” he said.
Here's what EU leaders are saying about the decision to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad in London
Various European leaders immediately reacted to the European Council’s decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter: “Very pleased with the Leaders’ endorsement of our Opinions. [Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia] all have work to do before moving to the next stage of the process. I know that they will move swiftly. They know how crucial this is for their democracies, their economies and their citizens.”
“This decision strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in the face of Russian imperialism. And it strengthens the EU. Because it shows once again to the world that we are united and strong in the face of external threats,” she added.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said, “On the right side of history. Congratulations to the people of Ukraine and Moldova. Today we gave hope. For freedom, for democracy, for our future.”
“This is #Europe's moment,” she added.
EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell said the decision “marked the beginning of a long journey that we will walk together,” and said “Ukraine will prevail. Europe will prevail.”
“The Ukrainian people belong to the European family. Ukraine’s future is with the EU,” he added.
Meanwhile, Latvia's Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said, “Today [the European Commission] took a historic decision to grant the #EU candidate state status to Ukraine and Moldova. It is the next step in their European dream. We will be side by side with you in the further European integration process - supporting and sharing our experience.”
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda called it a “big victory for Ukraine and for the European Union!” and a “very important and timely decision.”
And Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called it “a historic achievement” and a decision that “brings hope and trust in the EU future for the people of these countries and great responsibility for their leaders.”
Zelensky says EU leaders' decision to grant Ukraine EU candidate status is "unique and historical"
From CNN's Sebastian Shukla
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he commends the European Council's decision to grant Ukraine candidate status to join the European Union.
Quoting European Council President Charles Michel's tweet announcing the decision, Zelensky said it is “a unique and historical moment" in relations between the European Union and Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also tweeted that “Ukraine will prevail. Europe will prevail.”
His tweet, accompanied by a short video with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, said: “Today marks the beginning of a long journey that we will walk together. The Ukrainian people belong to the European family. Ukraine’s future is with the EU. We stand together for peace.”
JUST IN: EU decides to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova
From CNN's Chris Liakos
European Union leaders have agreed to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status.
“Agreement. #EUCO has just decided EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. A historic moment,” European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.
“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” he added, congratulating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President of Moldova Maia Sandu as well as the people of Ukraine and Moldova.
“Our future is together,” he said.
The European Council has decided “to recognize the European perspective of Georgia and is ready to grant candidate status once the outstanding priorities are addressed," Michel added.
UK says it can assist with de-mining operation around Ukraine's Black Sea coast to release food supplies
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad in London
The United Kingdom is willing to assist with a de-mining operation around Ukraine’s Black Sea coast in order to free food supplies, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.
"I don't want to get into the technical or military details, but you can take it from what we have already done in supplying equipment to the Ukrainians to help to protect themselves that we are certainly talking to them about what we can do at a technical level to help de-mine Odesa,” Johnson said, speaking to Reuters from Kigali, Rwanda, during an official visit.
''[Russian President] Putin is holding 23 million tons of grain to ransom. It is absolutely unconscionable. That supply could help people around the world, it could help some of the poorest countries in the world. What I am trying to argue is, I'm trying to say is it is not, it won't necessarily be decisive but it can make a big difference,” he added.
Some context: International leaders have condemned Russia's blockade of Black Sea ports, which the United Nations said could lead to millions experiencing famine or famine-like conditions around the globe. Satellite images have also shown what appear to be Russian ships taking stolen grain from Crimea to a port in Syria.
Earlier Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the crisis would have already been resolved if Ukraine and Western allies de-mined the ports.
"There is a job of work to be done. We are working with the Turks, with other European friends and allies to see what we can do. I think what the UK possibly has to offer, most of all, is expertise when it comes to maritime insurance, and a lot of expertise in moving goods through should we say contested areas of the sea,” Johnson also said.