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Von der Leyen discusses Ukraine’s EU bid in surprise Kyiv visit

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to Kyiv on Saturday to discuss Ukraine’s bid to join the EU with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

“I will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of the progress made by Ukraine on its European path,” von der Leyen said on Twitter after arriving in the Ukrainian capital on an unannounced visit.

The trip, von der Leyen’s second to Kyiv since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, comes just days before the Commission is due to publish its assessment of whether the country should be granted candidate status to join the EU. Von der Leyen has championed Ukraine’s bid, saying there’s no question that the country belongs in “the European family.” 

Yet other key players, notably Germany and France, have voiced reservations about accelerating Ukraine’s EU membership bid, a process that usually takes many years. 

Ukrainian leaders have pushed the EU to grant candidate status, insisting that they don’t want special treatment and are prepared to fulfill the EU’s stringent entry requirements. 

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