Updated Jun 16, 2022 - World

Leaders of Germany, France and Italy endorse Ukraine's EU bid after meeting Zelensky in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visit the devastated Kyiv suburb of Irpin on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron (from left), German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visit the devastated Kyiv suburb of Irpin on Thursday. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images

The leaders of France, Germany and Italy met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv Thursday and expressed support for granting Ukraine candidate status for accession to the European Union.

Why it matters: Zelensky this week urged Western countries to quickly deliver more arms as Ukraine attempts to fend off Russian forces in the country's east.

  • In recent days, Ukraine's government has criticized some European countries for dragging their feet on supplying additional military aid.
  • David Arakhamia, who leads Ukraine's negotiations with Russia and is one of Zelensky's closest advisers, said that the German government was still very reluctant to approve export licenses to arm Ukraine, per Axios' Dave Lawler.

Driving the news: French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in Kyiv by train and later visited the devastated suburb of Irpin.

  • Romanian President Klaus Iohannis also arrived in the city on Thursday for a visit on a separate train, he tweeted.
  • During a joint press conference after their meeting, Macron said that all four leaders were in favor of granting Ukraine "immediate" EU candidate status, Reuters reported.

The big picture: The visit comes ahead of an expected decision from the European Commission to recommend that Ukraine be granted candidate status to join the bloc, per Politico.

  • Macron said at a press conference that all four EU leaders attending the meeting with Zelensky also promised to back candidate status for Ukraine, AP reported.
  • President Biden also announced Wednesday that the U.S. will provide Ukraine with an additional $1 billion in military aid.

What they're saying: The leaders "want to send a strong signal of support and solidarity to president [Zelensky] and the people of Ukraine in these dire times," German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit tweeted.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters in Kyiv that the trip "a message of unity ... to the Ukrainians."

Go deeper: Ukraine suffering up to 1,000 casualties per day in Donbas, official says

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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