Ukrainians ‘belong to the European family’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis meet at the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest, Romania, on March 3. (George Calin/Reuters)

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen reiterated the European Union’s support for Ukraine’s membership, saying that “there is no doubt that those brave people who defend our values ​​at the cost of their lives belong to the European family”.

Von Der Leyen said the bloc can provide Ukrainian refugees with protection, residence, access to work and housing, adding that it is “not just an act of compassion in times of war, it is also our duty as than Europeans”.

At least a million refugees fled Ukraine in the week after the invasion began and “crossed our borders”, she said.

During a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Von Der Leyen announced the creation of a “civil protection center for Ukraine” based in Romania to respond to humanitarian needs.

She also addressed the long lines of people at the Polish border saying that they “have issued guidelines for border management. The aim is to simplify formalities at the border and thus allow people to obtain shelter more quickly.

Von der Leyen said “we are providing humanitarian aid to deal with the consequences of this war” and “will deploy at least 500 million euros from the EU budget in humanitarian aid and of course more will come”. How we must prepare for the devastating consequences of this atrocious war.

On penalties: She said the EU’s ‘objective is to cut off the Kremlin’s ability to wage war on its neighbors and warned of ‘additional measures if the situation deteriorates on the ground’.

The EU is preparing for “retaliation” from Russia, working to diversify its energy supplies, she said. Von der Leyen also announced his intention to connect Ukraine to the European electricity grid. “We are in the same boat and we will accompany Ukraine in this process with determination, unity and solidarity.”

“We will always remember the determination and bravery of the Ukrainian people. They are an inspiration to all of us,” she said before adding, “Our goal is to end this war.”

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