Kent transport

Ukraine applies for EU membership after negotiations with Russia

The first round of talks with Russia on ending the fighting in Ukraine has ended, and further talks could take place soon, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said. In the meantime, the president has signed an application for his country to join the European Union, with the aim of consolidating his country’s ties with the West.

Mr Zelensky posted photos of him signing the application, and his office says the documents are on their way to Brussels, where the 27-nation EU is headquartered.

A tweet from the Ukrainian President’s office read: “President @ZelenskyyUa has signed #Ukraine’s application for membership of the European Union. This is a historic moment! #EU”.

At this point, Ukraine is many years away from meeting EU membership standards, and the 27-nation bloc is tired of expansion and unlikely to welcome new members of so early.

Also, any addition to the EU must be approved unanimously, and some member states have complicated approval procedures.

Overall, the consensus was that Ukraine’s deep corruption could make it difficult for the country to gain EU acceptance. Yet in an interview with Euronews on Sunday, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said: “We want them in the European Union.”

Regarding the negotiations with Russia, Mykhailo Podolyak gave few details except to say that the talks, held near the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, focused on a possible ceasefire and that a second round could take place “in the near future”.

In a separate development, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said UK ports should deny access to Russian boats. As a Russian-owned ship was due to dock in Orkney on Tuesday, the British government was told to ban vessels from the country in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Shapps has now written to all UK ports to tell them not to give access to any vessel believed to be registered in Russia, flying the Russian flag or owned, controlled, chartered or operated by “any person connected with Russia”. He added that the British government will try to pass legislation prohibiting their arrival.

In his letter, Mr Shapps wrote: “Russia’s assault on Ukraine is an unprovoked and premeditated attack on a sovereign democratic state. The British government has made it clear that any Russian military incursion into Ukraine will have consequences massive and costly and, in coordination with our international allies and partners, we are developing an unprecedented set of new sanctions.

“The maritime sector is fundamental to international trade and we must play our part in restraining Russia’s economic interests and holding the Russian government to account. Under these circumstances, the Ministry of Transport does not consider it appropriate for Russian vessels to enter British ports.”

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