The European Union’s College of Commissioners traveled overnight to Kyiv, ahead of this week’s historic EU-Ukraine summit, the first to take place in a warzone. The commissioners will meet with senior Ukrainian government officials, including Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who announced ahead of the planned meeting that Kyiv has set an “ambitious goal” of joining the EU in two years.
But several EU member states have thrown cold water on a timeline that they regard as unrealistic, and the 27 commissioners were faced with the delicate task of managing Kyiv’s expectations regarding its aspiration for EU membership. Otherwise, Ukraine had a relatively successful week in terms of diplomatic reassurances of continued Western support amid its war with Russia. That optimism was further underscored by the Czech presidential election on Saturday, whose outcome should favor Kyiv.
Many in Ukraine watched the Czech election closely as a bellwether for whether European public opinion would continue to support the delivery of military aid to Kyiv. And for many Czech citizens, the second round runoff between Petr Pavel, a retired general who previously served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and populist former Prime Minister Andrej Babis was essentially a referendum on whether to stick with Prague’s NATO allies or align with Hungary in pushing for a Ukrainian surrender to Russia.