Zelensky says EU ‘should do more’ for Ukraine

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday the European Union “should do more” for his embattled country, a day after EU leaders doused its hopes of quick accession to the bloc.

“The European Union should do more. It must do more for us, for Ukraine,” he said in a video statement on Telegram more than two weeks after Russia invaded his country.

“The decisions of politicians must coincide with the mood of their people,” he added.

EU leaders have been meeting in France’s Versailles since Thursday to urgently address the fallout of the Russian invasion.

On Friday, they sought to double financing for military aid to Ukraine by an extra 500 million euros (around $550 million).

The Ukrainian president warned living conditions inside his country were deteriorating fast, in the northeast, around the capital and in the east.

“In the Sumy, Kyiv and Donetsk regions, there is no more electricity. Yes, there are problems with heating. There is no gas, no water,” he said.

“It’s a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Zelensky also accused Moscow of hiring “murderers” from war-torn Syria to fight on its side in Ukraine.

“It’s a war with a very stubborn enemy… who has decided to hire mercenaries against our citizens. Murderers from Syria, a country where everything has been destroyed… like they are doing here to us,” he said.

The Kremlin said Friday that fighters from Syria and the Middle East would be allowed to fight for Russia in Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin backed a plan to send volunteers to battle there.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said if the West was “so enthusiastic about the arrival of mercenaries” then they too had “volunteers who want to participate”.

Russia has been a key partner to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the 11-year Syrian civil war, rallying to his side in 2015 and helping him with its air power to gain the upper hand in the conflict.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said more than 16,000 volunteers — mostly from the Middle East — have applied to join the offensive in Ukraine.