In TV Address, Volodymyr Zelensky Asks EU To Admit Ukraine 'Immediately'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the European Union on Monday to allow Ukraine to join the bloc "immediately."

He insisted in a televised speech that Ukraine had earned the right to join the EU and this could be achieved through a "new special procedure."

"We appeal to the European Union to immediately admit Ukraine as a member under a new special procedure," he said.

"I say this as honestly as possible, the people of Ukraine have already earned and have the right to gain membership of the European Union," he said, according to a Euronews translation.

"This will be the key evidence of our country's support. The crucial moment has come to close once and for all the long-term strategic discussions and Ukraine's membership of the European Union."

He said he had discussed the issue on Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron as well as with Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU's executive Commission, and Charles Michel, who chairs meetings of EU leaders.

In a tweet, Zelensky said he had spoken by phone with von der Leyen about "concrete decisions on strengthening Ukraine's defense capabilities, macro-financial assistance and Ukraine's membership in the EU."

Von der Leyen told Euronews in an interview Sunday that Ukraine is "one of us and we want them in the European Union", but she gave no indication that Ukraine would be put on a fast track to membership.

Ukraine's government has long aspired to become a member of the 27-nation EU, which would be a big step towards its greater integration with the West, but it has never received a firm promise from Brussels that it could one day join. Even if a country is given a promise of EU membership, negotiations usually take years.

Russia has strongly opposed Ukraine's efforts to join both NATO and the EU. When Ukraine signed a free-trade deal with the EU in 2014, it drew a threat of "grave consequences" from Moscow.

Since the beginning of the invasion, Zelensky has released regular updates on his Twitter page. He has repeatedly called for support from neighboring countries and highlighted his conversations with world leaders.

In the last 24 hours, Zelensky has tweeted his appreciation for the support Ukraine has received from European leaders, who have imposed biting sanctions on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

"We keep in touch with loyal friends constantly. I spoke with [President of Lithuania] Gitanas Nauseda about the current military situation, international efforts to force the aggressor to peace and Ukraine's membership in the EU," he wrote in a tweet.

In another tweet, he wrote: "Talked to [United Kingdom] Prime Minister Boris Johnson and [Polish] President Andrzej Duda about the current security situation.

"Agreed on further joint steps to counter the aggressor. Anti-war coalition in action."

Guardian journalist Alec Luhn posted a clip of Zelensky's speech and added that Russian President Vladimir Putin would hate Ukraine joining the European Union as much as if it had joined NATO.

The Russian government, worried about NATO's expansion into eastern Europe, has sought assurances that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the Western military alliance.

Putin said in December it was critical that Ukraine was denied NATO membership and insisted that tensions in the region were rising due to NATO and U.S. actions.

"What is happening now, tensions that are building up in Europe, is their [the U.S. and NATO's] fault every step of the way," Putin told a meeting with the Russian Defense Ministry Board on December 21, 2021.

"Russia has been forced to respond at every step. The situation kept worsening and worsening, deteriorating and deteriorating.

"Here we are today, in a situation when we're forced to resolve it somehow."

Zelenskyy makes a TV address
Zelensky asked EU to admit Ukraine immediately during a televised speech.