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Volodymyr Zelensky: Negotiations on Ukraine's EU accession could start as early as this year

Ursula von der Leyen ьха Volodymyr Zelensky, Kyiv February 2, 2023.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday there were no rigid timelines for Ukraine to join the European Union. After meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at an EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv she commented the country’s accession bid: "There are no rigid timelines, but there are goals that you have to reach."

European Council President Charles Michel said that the future of Ukraine is within the European Union, but without commenting on the timeline.

Ukrainian President Zelensky was optimistic. "There is an understanding that it is possible to start negotiations on Ukraine's membership in the European Union this year," he announced in his traditional evening address to the nation.

A new $2.2 billion US arms package for Ukraine includes a new rocket-propelled precision bomb that could nearly double Kyiv's strike range against the Russians, the Pentagon said Friday.

In the meanwhile European Union countries agreed to set price caps on Russian refined oil products to limit Moscow's funds for its invasion of Ukraine, the Swedish presidency of the EU said on Friday.

EU diplomats said the price caps are $100 per barrel on products that trade at a premium to crude, principally diesel, and $45 per barrel for products that trade at a discount, such as fuel oil and naphtha. Ambassadors for the 27 EU countries agreed on the European Commission proposal, which will apply from Sunday. The cap on fuel prices includes a grace period until April for cargoes loaded before the cap was agreed, Bloomberg reported. The measure follows a $60 per barrel cap on Russian crude that G7 countries imposed on Dec. 5, 2022.

Russian military forces continue offensive actions in the areas of Liman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka. Over the past twenty-four hours, missile strikes have been carried out on the civilian infrastructure of the Kharkiv and Mykolaiv regions and there have been civilian casualties.

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