Remarks by President Charles Michel at the press conference following his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv:
Kyiv, 20 April 2022
Last year, I had the occasion to come to Ukraine three times. And exactly one year ago, in March last year, we went together to the Donbas. And there, I said “Russia is not a mediator”. I said “Russia is party to the conflict”. And the situation today is showing that I was right.
This morning, I went to Borodyanka to witness with my own eyes the situation on the ground. I met the people. There are no words to explain what I feel, not as President of the European Council, but as a father, as a human being. These are atrocities. These are war crimes. They must be punished. It will be punished. They must pay for what they have done there, and in many other cities and other locations in Ukraine.
Right now, like you, I think of the people, the soldiers, but also the civilians in the Donbas, in Mariupol and in other cities who are fighting for their lives, who are fighting for the sovereignty of Ukraine. And I know very well, they are fighting for our European values, for freedom, for democratic principles.
We are determined to do everything we can to support Ukraine because we want victory for Ukraine. And that is why we will use all the possible tools in our hands. Of course, financial support is very important. We had the opportunity to go into more detail with the President, and that is why we decided a few weeks ago, after a phone call, to launch this trust fund in solidarity with Ukraine. In the coming days, on May 5th, will be the starting point of this trust fund, with an international donors’ conference. We will organise this together with Poland, with Sweden and with the support of the European Commission, all the member states, and with the support of many international actors.
We are also working closely with international organisations like the IMF, the World Bank and others to make sure that we can mobilise funds in support, so Ukraine can pay the social expenditures that are needed in the short term, in the mid-term, and in the long term. It is also very important to start as soon as possible the programme of rebuilding the country. I can assure you that the EU will be on your side to rebuild your country.
Today we discussed very strategic and interesting ideas, very operational and concrete ideas to accelerate the process. I am optimistic that in the following days and weeks, we will clarify the exact nature of the support that we will be able to provide. And in order to succeed, we will also discuss the rebuilding of the country and the investments needed in infrastructure and in different fields.
The second important topic is military support. For the first time in history, the EU has decided to provide lethal military equipment. It was a decision taken two days after the start of the war. I remember very well, I will never forget it. Because you, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, you called me on Saturday, two days after the start of the war, and you asked me to coordinate the effort to start providing military equipment. And we succeeded in convincing the European Union member states in a few hours to provide military equipment. We decided a first tranche of 500 million euros. And now we have a total of 1.5 billion euros of military equipment, and day after day in close consultation with you, we are trying to convince member states to add bilateral support to make sure that what we provide is what you need. We discussed very precisely your needs and how we are able to make sure that we can provide with the EU’s member states and other partners the means that are needed to fight and to win this war.
The third point is political support. And I would like to say here that, of course, I understand, and I show full respect for the free and democratic decision taken by the government of Ukraine. When you decided to apply to be an EU member, we tasked the Commission immediately, only in a few days. Usually, it takes eight months for the Commission to publish an opinion. We are in close contact on the substance. We will have the opinion of the Commission by the end of June. Then it will be my responsibility to assess when I can put this point on the agenda of the European Council and the Council, to make sure that we have the political discussion to make progress on this.
But I want to share with you that I feel a very strong support to make sure that we can provide concrete support to Ukraine in your choice to follow the EU path for your future. And I am convinced that what you are demonstrating day to day, this demonstration that you are totally committed to democratic principles, to freedoms, and that you don’t only fight for the future of the children of Ukraine, we know that you fight for the European fundamental principles and values.
We are also determined to provide humanitarian support. We are determined to provide support to make sure that international justice and justice will prevail, because there is no peace without justice. That is why it is very important to collect the evidence and to support all the actors who are working in this important field.
Finally, we discussed the sanctions because we see that we must put pressure on the regime, on the Kremlin. We have decided many concrete measures. This is not enough, and it’s why we are constantly working to increase the pressure. Again today, we went into more detail and identified some additional elements for us to put proposals on the table of the Council and to be able to maintain the maximum pressure on Russia.
Finally, one last word. Dear Volodymyr, we met for the first time about three or four years ago, and this was the starting point of a personal relationship based on trust and confidence. I want to tell you that I am, and we are extremely impressed by your personal leadership. Your personal leadership is also showing the bravery and courage of the people of Ukraine. You are not alone. We are with you. And we will do everything possible to support you and to make sure that Ukraine will win the war. Thank you.
President Zelenskyy: European partners have made a significant contribution to Ukraine’s military capabilities
20 April 2022 – 20:37
The European Union must maximize sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation and provide Ukraine with all the necessary modern weapons to help our country win the war that Russia is shamefully waging against it. This was stated by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a meeting with media representatives following talks with European Council President Charles Michel in Kyiv.
The President thanked the EU senior official for his personal support and this visit, which took place despite all security challenges. He noted that Charles Michel visited the village of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region and could see the atrocities of the Russian occupiers.
“We understand that Russia seeks to destroy the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian statehood. And this is a real genocide. We see that Russia does not stop in its bloody desire to destroy Ukrainians and our state at any cost, women, children, our defenseless civilian population,” he said.
The President said that Ukraine and the EU had agreed to work closely together to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian military.
“I am convinced that by joint efforts we will be able to bring to justice all those guilty. And we will find everyone for sure, I promise you that,” the Head of State said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also noted that the timing of arms supplies has become clearer.
“European partners have made a significant contribution to our military capabilities. I am grateful for the allocation of 1.5 billion euros within the European Peace Fund to finance the military needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he said.
According to the Head of State, it was agreed to use these funds as efficiently as possible so that Ukraine would receive exactly the weapons it needs now.
“Not all, but those that are a top priority for us now. Not all, but those that we do not have. These are very important nuances. Timely and what is needed,” the President stressed.
Speaking about the strengthening of sanctions against Russia, he noted that the sixth powerful sanctions package should be approved as soon as possible depriving Russia of the opportunity to finance the war.
“We are grateful for the EU’s five sanctions packages. But, unfortunately, some things have not been completed by these sanctions, they need to be analyzed in more detail and implemented. It is still not enough to stop the financing of this war by the Russian Federation,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
In particular, according to him, Ukraine calls for a full energy embargo on Russia, including oil and gas imports.
“Oil must definitely be included in the sixth package. We believe that without it the package will not be powerful, it will be empty,” the President stressed.
The Head of State noted that it is also necessary to finally disconnect all Russian banks from SWIFT, including Sberbank and Gazprombank. It is necessary to block all accounts of the Russian state and companies, directing these funds to the reconstruction of Ukraine. Every Russian civil servant and their family must feel the effects of sanctions and the consequences of their personal support for the war against Ukraine.
For his part, Charles Michel is convinced that Russia must be held accountable for the war crimes and atrocities it has committed in the occupied Ukrainian cities. He also spoke in favor of helping Ukraine document the crimes of the invaders to ensure justice.
The President of the European Council noted that in the first days of the war the EU adopted a decision to provide military support to Ukraine, including equipment and weapons. In addition, EU member states provided assistance at the bilateral level at the request of the Ukrainian state.
Charles Michel also supported increasing pressure on the Russian regime to end the war. And today, additional points of proposals for the European Council to increase sanctions pressure on Russia were discussed.
“We will do everything we can for Ukraine to win, because we want the victory of Ukraine,” said the President of the European Council.
Today is a historic moment when Ukraine can develop maximum speed in joining the EU – address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
20 April 2022 – 22:18
Free people of the bravest country!
The 56th day of our defense is coming to an end, and today we have definitely become one step closer to peace.
I was glad to welcome in Kyiv a great friend of our state and all Ukrainians – President of the European Council Charles Michel. Each such visit only underscores how absurd Russia’s plans to seize our state were.
Three days? Five days? In how many days the occupiers planned to take control of Ukraine? 56 days – and we are meeting our guests in our capital for the sake of our national interests.
I held very thorough talks with Charles Michel on many aspects of relations between Ukraine and the European Union. The main thing is, of course, to protect our state and maintain the stable functioning of all state structures and all institutions. We discussed concrete steps of the European Union to help our country. In particular, defensive, financial and sanctions.
The second major topic of the talks is our movement towards European integration. This is the historic moment when we can develop maximum speed in joining the European Union. We have already proved that the Ukrainian state and public institutions are effective enough to withstand even the test of war. We are already doing as much to protect freedom on the European continent as other nations have never done.
And I see from all our friends in the European Union a willingness to help our movement as much as possible. I thanked Charles for that today.
The third major topic of our talks is the preparation of the necessary steps for the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war. We also discussed what we can do together with the European Union to address the threats to food and energy security in Europe and around the world posed by Russia. Resuming exports of Ukrainian agricultural products and blocking Russia’s ability to blackmail Europe with energy resources are top priorities for everyone on the continent.
Before meeting with me, President Charles Michel visited Borodyanka, Kyiv region. He came there not alone, but together with his team. They saw with their own eyes what the occupiers had done on our land. What destruction they had caused. And a correct conclusion was made by our friends: there can be no peace without justice. We will do everything we can to bring to justice every Russian military and commander guilty of war crimes. Modern technology allows you to clarify many details. Every surname, every home address, every bank account – we will find everything.
A Plan to strengthen sanctions against the Russian Federation for the war against our state was published today. This Plan was developed by a team of Ukrainian and international experts led by Andriy Yermak and Michael McFaul.
When all the key areas identified in this Plan are implemented, Russia will lose the opportunity to finance the military machine. In particular, the Plan provides for restrictions on Russia’s energy sector, banking sector, export-import operations, transport. The next steps should include an oil embargo and a complete restriction on oil supplies from Russia.
We are also working to ensure that all – I emphasize – all Russian officials who support this shameful war receive a logical sanctions response from the democratic world.
Russia must be recognized as a state-sponsor of terrorism, and the Russian Armed Forces must be recognized as a terrorist organization.
The European Union is currently preparing a sixth package of sanctions. We discussed this today with Charles Michel. We are working to make it truly painful for the Russian military machine and the Russian state as a whole.
I emphasize in all negotiations that sanctions are needed not as an end in themselves, but as a practical tool to motivate Russia to seek peace.
It is important that the EU Delegation and the embassies of friendly countries resumed work in Kyiv. This is one of the signals needed to tell Russia that there is no alternative to peace. There is no alternative to ending the war and guaranteeing full security for Ukraine. The more diplomatic missions return to work in our capital, the stronger this important signal will be.
Already 18 foreign missions are working in Kyiv in various formats. In particular, Italy, Iran, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, the Holy See, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, France, the Czech Republic, Estonia and others.
The return to normal life of the liberated cities and communities of Ukraine continues. 934 settlements have already been liberated. Police resumed work in 435 settlements. Local self-government started working in 431 communities. The work of humanitarian headquarters was launched in 361 settlements. We are gradually restoring people’s access to medical and educational services, to social protection bodies. We are restoring road infrastructure, electricity, gas and water supply.
The biggest threats are mines and tripwire mines planted by the occupiers and shells that did not explode. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort to neutralize them all. And I am grateful to all the specialists, all the rescuers who perform this important task.
Once again, I urge our citizens returning to liberated communities to be very careful. Do not enter the territory that has not yet been inspected. Do not go into the woods yet. If you see anything resembling a mine or a tripwire mine, report it to the police and rescuers immediately. Do not delay or attempt to remove hazardous items yourself.
The situation in the east and south of our country remains as severe as possible. The occupiers do not give up trying to gain at least some victory for themselves through a new large-scale offensive. At least something they can “feed” their propagandists with.
And I am sincerely grateful to each of our defenders, to all the Armed Forces of Ukraine, to all our cities, to all our communities that are resisting the invaders. To those who hold on and with their struggle, without exaggeration, save our state.
Mariupol, Avdiivka, Maryinka, Krasnohorivka, Toretsk, Velyka Novosilka, Zolote, Popasna, Izyum, Kharkiv, Hulyaipole, Mykolaiv, Vysokopillya, Snihurivka and dozens, dozens of other cities, dozens of other communities of the east, communities of the south of Ukraine, in the struggle for which the fate of our people and our freedom is being decided.
We are doing more than the maximum to ensure the supply of weapons to our army. Every day, all our diplomats, all our representatives and I personally work 24/7 through all possible channels – official and unofficial – to speed up the delivery of aid.
And I am very pleased to say, with cautious optimism, that our partners started to understand our needs better. Understand what exactly we need. And when exactly we need all this. Not in weeks, not in a month, but immediately. Right now, as Russia is trying to intensify its attacks.
Traditionally, before delivering the address, I signed a decree awarding our defenders. 203 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded state awards, 49 of them posthumously.
Five of our servicemen were posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.
Eternal memory to everyone who gave life for Ukraine!
Eternal gratitude to all who stood up for our state!