- The United States is sending another $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
- The European Union’s 27 nations have unanimously approved Ukraine’s application to become a candidate country for membership to the bloc.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says EU’s decision is one of the most important for Ukraine since it gained independence.
- Ukraine says it will move quickly and take the necessary steps for accession talks to begin.
Here are the latest updates:
US sending advanced rocket systems, other aid to Ukraine
The United States will send another $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems, to help push back Russian progress in the war, officials have announced.
The latest package includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which will double the number they have now. All four were prepositioned in Europe, and training on those systems has already begun with the Ukrainian troops who will use them, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman.
The first four HIMARS that the US previously sent have already gone to the battlefield in Ukraine and are in the hands of troops there.
According to the Pentagon, the aid also includes 18 tactical vehicles that are used to tow howitzers, so the weapons can be moved around the battlefield, as well as 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats, thousands of machine guns, grenade launchers and rounds of ammunition, and some other equipment and spare parts.
Zelenskyy says won’t rest until EU membership secured
Zelenskyy has promised not to rest until Russia’s defeat and full membership of Ukraine in the European Union had been secured.
“This is a victory,” a smiling Zelenskyy said in a brief video posted to his Instagram channel, noting Ukraine had waited 30 years for this moment.
“We can defeat the enemy, rebuild Ukraine, join the EU, and then we can rest,” he said in a low voice.
“Or perhaps we won’t rest at all – our children would take offence. But without any doubt, we will win.”
Andriy Yermak, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, said Kyiv would quickly implement the plan needed for accession talks to begin.
We thank 🇺🇦 people and the army having shown the importance of European values. We are paying a high price. And we are keen to become the 🇪🇺 member.
Getting ready for further necessary reforms. 🇺🇦🏻 🇪🇺
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) June 23, 2022
Ukraine, Moldova will tackle reforms quickly: EU’s von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she was convinced Ukraine and Moldova would move as swiftly as possible to implement necessary reforms.
“There can be no better sign of hope for the citizens of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in these troubled times,” she told reporters on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels after both countries were granted EU candidate status, adding that they still had to do homework.
“I am deeply convinced that our decision that we have taken today strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in the face of Russian aggression,” she said.
“And it strengthens the European Union because it shows once again to the world that the European Union is united and strong in the face of external threats.”
Moldovan President says EU decision on candidacy status is a historic day
Moldovan President Maia Sandu has said the European Union’s move to grant her nation candidacy status was a historic day, adding: “We have a difficult road ahead, which will require a lot of work and effort”.
In a Facebook post, she said EU membership would being more welfare, more opportunities and more order in the small country, which lies sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania.
Zelenskyy thanks EU for candidacy approval
A triumphant Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked the European Union for granting Ukraine candidate status, saying this was the beginning of Europe’s new history.
Listing and thanking every country in the bloc individually in a video address, Zelenskyy said they made had made “one of the most important decisions for Ukraine in all 30 years of independence of our state.”
“I have always said that we, Ukrainians, believe in the European Union. Although we remained formally outside the European Union, our country probably had the largest number of flags of a united Europe,” he said.
“They were in the hands of our people during the revolutions. They have been in the hands of our people in the trenches since 2014. I believe that the flag of the European Union will be in every Ukrainian city that we have yet to liberate from the occupation of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskyy added.
Sincerely commend EU leaders’ decision at #EUCO to grant 🇺🇦 a candidate status. It’s a unique and historical moment in 🇺🇦-🇪🇺 relations. Grateful to @CharlesMichel, @vonderleyen and EU leaders for support. Ukraine’s future is within the EU. #EmbraceUkraine https://t.co/o6dJVmTQrn
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 23, 2022
Read all the updates from June 23 here.