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EU's von der Leyen visits Kyiv ahead of report on accession progress

KYIV: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv on Saturday (Nov 4) ahead of a report the European Union is expected to present next week about Ukraine’s progress in its membership bid.

“Good to be back in Kyiv for my sixth wartime visit,” von der Leyen wrote on social media platform X, posting a picture of her with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a railway station.

“I’m here to discuss Ukraine’s accession path to the EU. The EU’s financial support to rebuild Ukraine as a modern, prosperous democracy. And how we will continue to make Russia pay for its war of aggression.”

The EU assessment due on Wednesday is expected to detail how far Ukraine has advanced in fulfilling various economic, legal, and other criteria to clear the way for accession talks to be launched in December.

Ukraine, which applied to join the European Union days after Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, sees joining the trade bloc as a top priority.

The EU’s 27 members are due at a summit in December to decide whether to allow Kyiv to begin accession negotiations, a move requiring the unanimous backing of all the bloc’s members.

Ukraine’s bid got a boost on Thursday when German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was confident the bloc would advance Ukraine’s application next month.

Membership talks typically take years and involve extensive legal, political and economic reform. Ukraine’s case is made much harder by the war raging in its south and east with no end in sight.

Von der Leyen’s visit comes as Ukraine’s troops battle fatigue and concerns swirl over the future of US military assistance which Kyiv relies on heavily. Parliamentary deputy Yaroslav Zheleznyak said on his Telegram channel that von der Leyen was expected to speak in the Ukrainian parliament.

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