BRUSSELS — Ukraine’s president called on European Union leaders on Thursday to live up to their promises to provide military equipment to his war-ravaged country, as the bloc pledged to support the government in Kyiv long term.

“Fulfilment of every promise is important, not only in terms of protecting lives but also to destroy the Russian illusion that they will achieve something by war,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the leaders at an EU summit in Brussels.

Russian forces are seeking to press their advantage in troop numbers and weaponry before Ukraine’s armed forces are bulked up by promised new Western military aid, some of which is trickling to the front line, analysts say.

Zelenskyy thanked countries that have promised equipment, weapons and ammunition, but underlined that “we need them urgently on the battlefield.” He also appealed for more help on “the urgent things -– air defense, that is one.”

Zelenskyy and the leaders signed a 12-page document of “joint security commitments” to each other. In essence, it encapsulates what the 27-nation bloc has been doing for the country in terms of financial, military and other assistance since Russian forces invaded in February 2022.

The EU, for its part, commits to the “predictable, efficient, sustainable and long-term provision of military equipment,” help with military training and building Ukraine’s defense sector, plus increased cooperation on cyber and hybrid threats, like information manipulation and interference.

It also vows to help with mine clearance, security and law enforcement reform, energy security and nuclear safety, as well as assistance with rebuilding Ukraine’s shattered infrastructure, hospitals and buildings, and to hold accountable those suspected of war crimes.

Ukraine promised to uphold European values and continue on its reform path in preparation to join the EU, including by ensuring civilian control over its security and defense forces. It also pledged to boost transparency and accountability in the way that it uses EU assistance.

Several countries already have similar bilateral agreements with Ukraine, offering a long-term commitment to help Kyiv, including once its war with Russia is over. Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden signed one such pact earlier this month which will run for the next decade.

The EU’s document was signed in the same week that it launched membership talks with Ukraine, a decade after Russian troops seized the Crimean Peninsula to deter the country from moving closer to the West, part of a chain of events that set the two neighbors on the path to war.

“We waited for this a long period of time,” Zelenskyy told reporters, thanking the EU for its approval.

The bloc is notably concerned about rampant corruption in Ukraine and this must be corrected before the country can join. The accession process is likely to take several years.



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