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EU Council chief vows support, ammunition for Ukraine

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — European Council President Charles Michel on Monday pledged to continue supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression “for as long as necessary,” adding that EU leaders will “massively ramp up” ammunition production to send to the war-torn country.

Michel met with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest, where the two leaders discussed EU support for Ukraine, security issues in neighboring Moldova, and Romania's bid to join Europe’s ID check-free travel zone, also known as the Schengen area.

“We are again stepping up our military support,” Michel told a news conference. “Last week, we agreed to urgently deliver one million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine. We will massively ramp up our production capacity.”

Last week, EU foreign and defense ministers approved a plan for a fast-track purchasing procedure for direct negotiations with industrial providers of ammunition in Europe, and plan to send one million rounds to Ukraine within the next 12 months. But not all EU members want to partake in getting ammunition to Ukraine.

President Iohannis said “this is not the time for hesitation in maintaining unity and solidarity with Ukraine” as the war grinds on, adding that “support must be maintained and strengthened on all levels.”

The two leaders also discussed the unfolding situation in EU-membership candidate Moldova that has faced a protracted series of crises since Moscow launched its war in neighboring Ukraine.

Michel said Russia and its allies have stepped up efforts to destabilize Moldova by “weaponizing energy, conducting cyber-attacks, staging protests, and other subversive activities.”

Michel will on Tuesday travel to Moldova where he will meet with Moldovan President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Dorin Recean, in the capital Chisinau.

Despite Romania joining NATO in 2004, and the EU three years later, it was told last year along with Bulgaria that it must wait longer to participate in the Schengen zone — the world’s largest free travel zone — amid some countries’ migration concerns.

Michel expressed his full support for Romania's bid to join the Schengen area.

 

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