Ukraine should not be offered EU membership - Austria foreign minister

While Alexander Schallenberg does advocate deeper ties between Europe and Ukraine, full membership is not one of them and instead, other paths should be used

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 18, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR/FILE PHOTO)
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 18, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR/FILE PHOTO)

Ukraine should not be offered European Union membership, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said last week at a European media summit, Pravda reported.

While Schallenberg does advocate deeper ties between Europe and Ukraine, full membership is not one of them and instead, other paths should be used. This would include joining the EU's economic zone or just maintaining the current status quo, Austrian outlet Heute reported.

As for why Ukraine shouldn't receive EU candidate status this June, Schallenberg pointed to states in the Western Balkans that are currently joining talks for EU accession.

Joining the European Union is something Ukraine has vocally called for. This follows years of warming relations with the West, but these calls became even more vocal following Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the end of February.

Ahead of this invasion and during it, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly cited fears of Ukraine's closer ties with the West, with many pointing to efforts to join both the EU and NATO among them.

 UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT Volodymyr Zelensky winks in a video statement with sand bags behind him in Kyiv, in this still image obtained from social media.  (credit: Instagram/Volodymyr Zelensky/via Reuters) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT Volodymyr Zelensky winks in a video statement with sand bags behind him in Kyiv, in this still image obtained from social media. (credit: Instagram/Volodymyr Zelensky/via Reuters)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has already submitted Ukraine's application to join and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also said that they want Ukraine in the EU.

"Indeed over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in," von der Leyen said in late February.

Russian ambassador to US: Mission is 'blockaded'

The working of the Russian embassy in Washington is "blockaded," with its bank accounts closed and staff receiving threats, state news agency RIA cited ambassador Anatoly Antonov as saying on Sunday.

"The embassy is in essence blockaded by U.S. government entities. Accounts of our two consulates in Houston and New York have been closed by Bank of America," Antonov was quoted as saying.

"We receive threats both by phone and letters come... At some point even the exit from the embassy was blocked," he added.

Russia and the United States had been locked in a dispute over the size and functioning of their respective diplomatic missions long before President Vladimir Putin launched what he calls his "special military operation" against Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Since then, Russian embassies in Europe have also come under pressure and more than 300 Russian staff have been expelled from European capitals, prompting Moscow to kick out foreign diplomats in response.

The Russian ambassador to Poland told Reuters last week that the blocking of his embassy's bank accounts last month could eventually prevent it from functioning, in which case Russia would halt the work of the Polish embassy in Moscow. 

Western governments have imposed drastic sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, prompting Moscow to accuse them of frenzied Russophobia.

Turkey ready to help

Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during the negotiation process between Ukraine and Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan told Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky during a telephone call, the Turkish presidency said on Sunday.

Erdogan said the evacuation of the wounded and civilians in Ukraine's Mariupol must be ensured, adding that Turkey viewed the guarantor issue positively in principle. Ukraine has sought security guarantees from various countries during talks.