By JOHN LEICESTER and SYLVIE CORBET
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The leaders of four European Union nations visited Ukraine on Thursday, vowing to back Kyiv’s bid to become an official candidate to join the bloc in a high-profile show of support for the country fending off a Russian invasion.
French President Emmanuel Macron also promised Ukraine six more powerful truck-mounted artillery guns, the latest in a new round of Western arms pledges for Ukraine as the war grinds on in the eastern Donbas region.
The leaders “are doing everything so that Ukraine alone can decide its fate,” Macron said at a news conference.
In the face of Kyiv’s fears that Western resolve to help it could wane, the visit by Macron and the leaders of Germany, Italy and Romania carried heavy symbolic weight. The three Western European powers have faced criticism for continuing to engage with Russian President Vladimir Putin — and failing to provide Ukraine with the scale of weaponry that it has said is necessary to fend off the Russians. Romania’s president also made the journey.
After arriving in Kyiv to the sound of air raid sirens, the leaders headed to Irpin, a suburb of the capital that was the scene of intense fighting early in the war and where many civilians were killed. They decried the destruction there.
While shocking images of such devastation have rallied Western support, officials in Ukraine have expressed fears that “war fatigue” could eventually erode that — particularly as rising prices and upcoming elections in the United States are increasingly dominating people’s concerns.
The U.S. and its European allies have given billions of dollars in weaponry to Ukraine, and Germany and the U.S. recently announced new arms shipments. Such arms have been key to the country’s surprising success in preventing the Russians from taking the capital, but officials in Kyiv have said much more will be needed if they are to drive Moscow’s forces out.