European Commission president visits Kyiv, touts nation’s EU bid

Ukraine planning to finalise drafting its reconstruction plan in early July.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. Image: Thierry Monasse/Bloomberg , STA
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made an unannounced visit to Kyiv, where she held talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and said Ukraine is making progress on its bid for candidacy status to join the European Union.
“We have been working day and night on this assessment,” she said, referring to preparations for June 17 when the commission is expected to recommend Ukraine for candidate status — the start of a membership process that could take as long as a decade.

Ukraine said its partners didn’t heed its plea for preemptive sanctions that could’ve persuaded Russia to withdraw its troops from the border before Feb. 24. Zelenskiy’s office was responding to President Joe Biden, who said the Ukrainian leader brushed off his warnings about an imminent invasion. The average US gasoline price climbed to more than $5 per gallon, a runup exacerbated by western sanctions on Russian energy.

Key developments
(All times CET)

Ukraine Sees Reconstruction Plan by Early July (7:20 p.m.)
Ukraine is planning to finalize drafting its reconstruction plan in early July in time for a donors’ conference scheduled for July 4-5 in Lugano, Switzerland, members of the parliament said.

The plan aims to strengthen Ukraine’s economic resilience and modernize the country, Danilo Getmantsev, a governing-party lawmaker, told reporters in Kyiv. “We want to present something aligned with our partners” who will help finance reconstruction, opposition lawmakers Yaroslav Zheleznyak said.

The European Union has said it expects to finance the bulk of Ukraine’s reconstruction costs.

US Average Gasoline Price Breaches $5 a Gallon (7:10 p.m.)
Gasoline topped an average of $5 per gallon in the US, signaling the latest pain point for American consumers and President Joe Biden’s efforts to curb inflation.

A global shortage has been exacerbated by European and US efforts to sidestep oil from Russia to punish President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine. Record prices at the pump are fueling the highest US inflation rate in 40 years. Pump prices rose to $5.004 a gallon early Saturday, according to auto club AAA.

German Missile System for Ukraine Next Week (3:40 p.m.)
Ukraine expects to get the advanced German air defense system IRIS-T in August, the country’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, told NV.ua. The system can defend a territory the size of Kyiv from air attacks. Ukraine expects to put such systems near the major cities within next three to four years, said Melnyk, who has been a regular critic of German government for being hesitant to supply military aid to Ukraine.

Von der Leyen Visits Kyiv in Boost for Ukraine’s EU Bid (2:03 p.m.)
The head of the EU’s executive arm made her second visit to Kyiv since the start of the war and met Zelenskiy. She said officials were working day and night on Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union.

The European Commission is expected to recommend on June 17 that Ukraine be granted candidate status to join the bloc, starting a process that could last more than a decade in which the country must adopt EU rules and standards.

“We will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of progress made by Ukraine as it pursues its European path,” von der Leyen had said before the visit. “This will feed into our assessment, which we will present soon.”

Ukraine Steps Up Diplomatic Outreach (12:32 p.m.)
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted he spoke with Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau to discuss the next deliveries of heavy weapons and a seventh EU sanctions package on Russia. Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov met Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and had a “productive and frank discussion.” Meanwhile Ukrainian lawmaker Fedir Venislavskyi said the country was taking all necessary measures to save the two Britons and a Moroccan captured by Russia and sentenced to death, Reuters reported.

Ukraine Open to Prisoner Swap for Britons, Telegraph Says (9:19 a.m.)
Ukraine is open to a prisoner swap to secure the release of two British sentenced to death by Russia, the Telegraph reported, citing Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK. The two men, who have lived in Ukraine for several years, were serving members of the Ukrainian military. The UK is keen to avoid treating their capture as a bilateral issue, the Telegraph said.

US, Ukraine Spar Over Invasion Warning (9:17 a.m.)
Biden said Zelenskiy tuned out warnings that Russia would invade Ukraine in the lead-up to the February attack.

“I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating, but I knew, and we had data to sustain, he was going in off the border. There was no doubt. And Zelenskiy didn’t want to hear it, nor did a lot of people,” Biden said Friday. The president acknowledged that the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin launching a full-scale invasion may have seemed far-fetched at that time.

Zelenskiy’s spokesman, Serhiy Nikiforov, said the Ukrainian president had had multiple calls with Biden before the invasion where the two leaders shared their assessments of the situation. Besides, Zelenskiy had called upon the country’s partners to prepare preemptive sanctions to push Russia to de-escalate, but “our partners didn’t want to hear us.”

More Children Die in Mariupol (9:09 a.m.)
Ukraine’s prosecutor general has learned of the death of 24 more children in Mariupol, Guardian report. That means at least 287 children have died so far in the war, while 492 have been injured, the paper said, citing a statement from the prosecutor general’s office.

“These figures are not final, as work is under way to establish them in places of active hostilities, in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories,” according to the statement.

BASF CEO Bats for Tech Sanctions (9:00 a.m.)
The chief executive officer of BASF SE, which would have to shut down its main site in Ludwigshafen if Russian gas supply is cut off, said he favors sanctions on the technology industry instead. Curbs on aircraft replacement parts, semiconductors or software updates would have a much bigger impact on Russia than a possible gas embargo, Martin Brudermueller said in an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Japan Says China-Russia Ties May Deepen Further (4:20 a.m.)
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said ties between Moscow and Beijing may deepen further as Russia is under intense international sanctions. The joint military activities carried out by the two countries are also a cause for concern, he said at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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