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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and a team of 15 commissioners arrived in Kyiv on February 2 for the first-ever joint meeting with Ukraine's government, with Russia's invasion, launched on February 24 last year, and Ukraine's bid for membership to the bloc on the agenda.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after their meeting, von der Leyen said that sanctions have been exacting a heavy price on Moscow, "throwing it back by a generation," with the EU price cap on oil alone making Russia lose some 160 million euros ($176 million) daily.
Responding to a remark by Zelenskiy, who said Kyiv hopes the bloc's sanctions campaign will gain momentum again after appearing to have "slightly slowed down" recently, von der Leyen said the EU would "introduce with our G7 partners an additional price cap on Russian petroleum products, and by the 24th of February -- exactly one year since the invasion started -- we aim to have the 10th package of sanctions in place."
Von der Leyen also commended the Ukrainian government for taking swift action against corruption -- one of the main conditions advanced by Brussels as mandatory for Kyiv's progress on its path to eventual EU membership.
Ukraine was granted candidate status for membership in the 27-member bloc in June, and Zelenskiy has pledged to root out entrenched corruption that has weakened the effectiveness of state institutions even as the country faced an increasingly aggressive Russia since 2014, culminating in Moscow's unprovoked full-scale invasion.
Von der Leyen's visit comes a day after several high-ranking officials' homes were raided by anti-corruption agents in a second sweep in a week.
"Your determination to join the European Union is impressive," von der Leyen said.
"I'm comforted to see that your anti-corruption bodies are on alert and effective in detecting corruption cases...I also commend you on reacting so rapidly at the political level to make sure that the fight against corruption is delivering tangible results and is further stepped up," she added.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi are among the members of the delegation to arrive in Kyiv on February 2.
"Arrived in Kyiv to convey EU’s strongest message of support to all Ukrainians defending their country,” Borrell wrote on Twitter, adding, "EU assistance has reached 50 billion euros [$55 billion] since the start of Russia’s war. Europe stood united with Ukraine from day one. And will still stand with you to win and rebuild."
"The meeting will be an opportunity to exchange on the many areas of cooperation between the EU and Ukraine," a commission statement said, calling the event a "strong symbol" of EU support for Ukraine "in the face of Russia's unprovoked and unjustified aggression."
European Council President Charles Michel will arrive for a summit meeting on February 3.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has called the meetings "two extremely important events" for his country's European integration.
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