On Thursday, June 16, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis arrived at the presidential residence in Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The mission implied political and symbolic value: the leaders of the three major EU countries gathered together for the first time since the beginning of the war to talk face to face with Volodymyr Zelensky and express their "support to the Ukrainian people".
By doing so, the three leaders wished, first of all, to prove the unity of Europe and perhaps demonstrate that their view was not necessarily identical to that of the US. On the eve of the mission, the head of the Elysée most clearly distanced himself from Washington's intransigence towards Russia. "The Ukrainian president and his officials will have to negotiate with Russia, even if we do everything to stop the Russian forces and help the Ukrainians and their army," Macron declared.
The Ukraine trip of the three leaders coincided with a highly complex phase of the war as the Russian army continued to gain territories and intensify firepower in Donbas. The Ukrainians fought, expecting more substantial support from European allies.
"The most important message of our visit is that Italy wants Ukraine in the EU, wants Ukraine to have candidate status and will support this position at the next European Council," underlined the Italian Prime Minister, followed by the other European leaders making similar statements. Draghi went on to specify, though, that "President Zelensky naturally understands that the path from candidate to a member is a path, not a point. It is a road that will have to see the profound reforms of Ukrainian society" .
Long story short, as always, the European leaders can’t boast solid decision-making. They continue saying they want to support Ukraine unconditionally. Still, the visit did not deliver tangible results, with no decision or step taken to end the conflict. It was a promotional walk, an almost ordinary, image-building event.
The European leaders claimed that Zelensky had not asked for new weapons supplies. At the same time, the NATO secretary said he wanted to send heavy weapons in unprecedented quantities.
Regarding the reconstruction of Ukraine, the leaders immediately refused to comment , saying they would discuss this after the war. Zelensky didn't miss an opportunity to criticise Russia, saying that Moscow "does not want peace, but only wants to destroy Ukraine and Europe". The European leaders applauded the Ukrainian leader's words, albeit far from the announced intention to promote peace with Moscow.
Indeed, no one seems to be interested in peace between Ukraine and Russia anymore, and neither does it seem a fundamental objective. At the same time, the announcements and bureaucratic procedures that one day might allow Kyiv to enter the European Union and, as some people think, even NATO, continue.
In the meantime, the war continues, Russia advances in Ukraine, and for weeks no one has attempted to resume dialogue with Moscow to find some real agreement. None of those European leaders has tried to initiate serious negotiations with Vladimir Putin, and this is the only way to bring the war to an end.
The College of European Commissioners is meeting tomorrow to decide on the opinion of the EU executive authority regarding the applications for the candidate status of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. This is a purely bureaucratic action that has no substantial value. Nevertheless, this is precisely the sort of thing the European bureaucrats seem to be initiating and prioritising, not the strive for peace, not the wheat crisis, and far less the necessary dialogue with Moscow aimed at saving the lives of many people all over the world who were affected by this long-standing conflict.