LONDON (BBC) : Ukraine’s leader is going to Brussels, having urged the leaders of France, Germany and the UK to provide fighter jets for the war against Russia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky will lobby a summit of EU leaders and address the European Parliament, on his second trip abroad since last February’s invasion.
In Paris, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz reiterated that Russia must not win the war.
Mr Zelensky said France and Germany had the potential to be “game-changers”.
Praising European unity, he said the sooner Ukraine received heavy, long-range weapons and modern planes, “the quicker this Russian aggression will end”.
He had earlier addressed a joint session of the UK Parliament in Westminster Hall, underlining his plea for fighter jets: “Freedom will win – we know Russia will lose.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told him nothing was off the table.
Mr Zelensky flew to Brussels with President Macron on Thursday, after the French leader vowed Ukraine could count on his support, with France “determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights”.
Chancellor Scholz added: “The position is unchanged: Russia must not win this war.”
Although President Macron has previously signalled some openness to providing fighter jets – Mr Scholz has not.
EU officials know that a strong focus of the Ukrainian leader’s message on Thursday will be on the speedy delivery of weapons already promised as well as the Western planes is he now heavily pitching for.
Mr Zelensky rarely leaves his own country and a senior Ukrainian official said that he travelled to obtain results.
However, Thursday’s EU leaders’ summit is not a forum for weapons pledges but a chance for Ukraine’s president to be in the room with all 27 EU leaders.
He says fighter jets and long-range missiles are important in addition to the Leopard 2 tanks that Western nations have recently committed to supplying. While Mr Zelenksy said he had discussed the issue of combat planes in Paris, he warned there was “very little time” to provide much-needed weaponry.
Both the French president and German chancellor have at times faced criticism for being too slow to support Ukraine.
Mr Zelensky has previously expressed frustration with Mr Macron, who has continued to hold phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion.
But the Ukrainian president told French newspaper Le Figaro he believed Mr Macron had changed. He said his commitment to support Ukraine to victory and the fact he “opened the door” to tank deliveries last month showed this.