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Impact of Ukraine war to dominate EU leaders’ summit in Versailles

EU leaders are gathering at an informal summit in Versailles on Thursday after a frantic two weeks of supplying arms, sheltering nearly 2 million people and signing off on three rounds of massive sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Versailles, 10 March 2022 (dpa/MIA) – EU leaders are gathering at an informal summit in Versailles on Thursday after a frantic two weeks of supplying arms, sheltering nearly 2 million people and signing off on three rounds of massive sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The first day of the two days of talks are to focus on bolstering the bloc against the economic and humanitarian impacts of the war in Ukraine and how to wean the bloc off Russian energy imports.

Plans published by the European Commission on Tuesday outlined the bloc’s shift away from Russian gas before 2030. Moscow’s repeated threats to suspend gas supplies have injected urgency into the discussions.

Some EU members “feel they don’t have a choice” on gas, a senior EU official said. “The idea in the field of energy is to be able to have a choice, to not be too highly dependent.”

Further measures to support EU member states near Ukraine hosting hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the war are also to be addressed.

Ukrainian hopes for a quick entry to the EU after the Russian invasion look set to be dashed, however, according to a draft statement seen by dpa.

“Ukraine belongs in the European family,” the draft says, with no calls to take the application further, despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s push for fast-tracked entry.

Calls for EU member states to invest more in defence spending are also included in the draft.

The move comes after the bloc provided €450 million ($497 million) in arms to Ukraine, a historic EU first to arm a non-EU country in a conflict. More sanctions on Russia will also be considered.

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