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MaltaToday 10 May 2023 MIDWEEK

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15 WORLD maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 10 MAY 2023 Ukraine working hard for EU membership – Ursula von der Leyen EUROPEAN Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine has made progress in reforms as part of the process to join the EU but more work was needed. She visited the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Tuesday as Russia celebrated Victory Day in Moscow. Von der Leyen was speak- ing during a joint press con- ference with Ukrainian Pres- ident Volodymyr Zelensky. "It is impressive to see, despite a full-blown war, Ukraine is working hard, tirelessly and intensively on the seven steps. A lot of progress has been made but work has to continue," she said. Ukraine was admitted as an EU candidate country last year, which means it has to fulfil a number of criteria be- fore it can become a member state. Von der Leyen said it was an honour and privilege to be in Ukraine, describing it as a day to celebrate "peace and unity" in Europe and re- member the lessons of histo- ry and to commit to a better future. "So it is very fitting to be here in Kyiv to celebrate 9 May," she said, adding Kyiv is the "beating heart" of Eu- ropean values. Addressing the Russian in- vasion of Ukraine, von der Leyen said Russia had al- ready "dramatically failed" and that Ukraine is fighting for the ideals of Europe. "Putin and his regime have destroyed these values, and now they are attempt- ing to destroy them here in Ukraine… the aggressor has already dramatically failed," she said. Von der Leyen said "the invaders have been dragged out of prisons" and picked up to fight on behalf of Rus- sia. "The spirit of Europe Day is solidarity, and Zelensky can count on that solidarity from the EU for as long as it takes," she said. EU doing everything in its power to erode Putin's war machine Von der Leyen also dis- cussed sanctions against Russia, saying Europe is do- ing everything in its power to erode "Putin's war machine and his revenues". "Our sanctions are work- ing… we reduced our im- ports from Russia by nearly two-thirds, thus preventing Russia receiving crucial rev- enue streams," she said. Von der Leyen also spoke of the importance of grain exports from Ukraine, saying that the "immediate priori- ty" is for grain transit to go seamlessly, at the lowest pos- sible cost outside of Ukraine, towards the EU. "This requires close coop- eration, so we will set up a coordination platform, so we can get solidarity lanes," she said. Putin says world is at a 'turning point' during muted Victory Day parade RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin oversaw Moscow's Victory Day parade, which was held under strict security on Tuesday as the war in Ukraine continues to rage. Putin said the world is at a "turn- ing point", with a "real war" being waged against Russia. He said Rus- sia wanted a "peaceful future" and blamed the West for sowing seeds of "hatred and Russophobia". The annual holiday commemo- rates the Soviet victory over Na- zi Germany in World War Two with a military parade in Moscow. However, some events were scaled back amid security concerns in the wake of the recent downing of a drone over the Kremlin. Putin again sought to link Rus- sia's invasion of Ukraine to the struggle against Nazism, claiming that Russia was defending its sov- ereignty. Meanwhile, European Com- mission President Ursula von der Leyen held a news conference in Kyiv with Ukraine's President Vo- lodomir Zelensky. Von der Leyen said Kyiv is the "beating heart" of European val- ues, while Zelensky said success in defeating Russian attacks were proof that Ukraine "can win over this aggressor". Ukraine said its air defences downed 15 Russian cruise missiles launched at Kyiv overnight - no casualties were reported. Russia has intensified its long- range attacks on Ukrainian cities over the past weeks in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south. Several cities have been targeted, including the capital Kyiv. Russia celebrates Victory Day with Moscow parade but events are scaled back amid security concerns

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