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Top EU official vows more support for Ukraine

A top European Union official promised Wednesday to further expand support for Ukraine, saying that “there is no Europe without Ukraine.”

“The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is the most ambitious, comprehensive agreement the EU has with another country,” European Council President Charles Michel said. “As part of this Agreement, Ukraine has agreed to serious commitments to sweeping reforms.”

Michel, on his first visit to Ukraine, held talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv a day after they visited the area near the separatist conflict in the country's east.

European Council President Charles Michel talks during a joint media conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Sergiy DolzhenkoPool via AP)

The conflict erupted in April 2014 when Russia provided support to separatist rebels, weeks after annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. More than 14,000 people have been killed in the fighting, which has ravaged the country’s industrial heartland.

“The EU has provided unprecedented support to Ukraine and its reform process — 16 billion euros since 2014,” Michel said. “And we will continue to support your efforts.”

He noted that the EU has already provided 190 million euros for Ukraine to help it fight the coronavirus and is helping the country gain access to vaccines. “I will personally engage to speed up the delivery,” Michel said.

European Council President Charles Michel talks during a joint media conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Sergiy DolzhenkoPool via AP)

While promising more support to Ukraine, Michel emphasized the need for the country to step up its long-awaited judicial reforms and bolster efforts to combat corruption.

“The EU stands with you, President Zelenskiy, in restoring the Ukrainian people´s trust in your judicial system and anti-corruption agenda,” Michel said, wrapping up the two-day visit. “It is essential to continue the fight against corruption, and to continue other reforms at full speed.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy talks during a joint media conference with European Council President Charles Michel in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Sergiy DolzhenkoPool via AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy talks during a joint media conference with European Council President Charles Michel in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Sergiy DolzhenkoPool via AP)

European Council President Charles Michel talks during a joint media conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Sergiy DolzhenkoPool via AP)