Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to address the European Council at a summit this week, European Council President Charles Michel told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Michel confirmed that “we have proposed to him to address the summit.”
He added that the European Council was the first assembly Zelensky addressed after the start of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.
During a sit-down interview in Brussels, Michel told Amanpour: “We must make sure that Putin will be defeated. It must be the common goal.”
“This is a question of security, for the future of Europe and for the future of the world.”
Michel said he has spoken with Zelensky and the Russian president multiple times since Russia invaded Ukraine, hoping to help them reach “a ceasefire and to make possible a sincere track in order to negotiate.”
“It’s extremely difficult, because we are not certain that the Russian government is sincere,” he added. “We are not naïve – we think that they are trying to attack military in order to strengthen their positions in the negotiation talks.”
“But on the other hand, we must change the balance of power in order to give to President Zelensky a better position in those direct talks with Russia,” Michel said.
The European Council meeting is scheduled to run from March 24-25, with Ukraine as the main topic on the agenda. US President Joe Biden is confirmed to attend Thursday to discuss Ukraine and transatlantic cooperation.
Michel also discussed sanctions, saying the European Union “must be intelligent” on sanctions against Russia.
“We have decided unprecedented sanctions” against Russia, he said, adding "we are targeting oligarchs, we are targeting the economic sectors in Russia.”
However, “we do not have exactly the same situation in Europe and in the United States,” the European Council President acknowledged. “The oil or the gas sector, for instance. We are much more dependent in Europe in comparison with the situation in the United States.”
“It’s why we must be intelligent. The goal is to target Russia, the goal is to be painful against Russia. The goal is not to be painful for ourselves,” he said.
When pressed on Europe’s reliance on Russia for its energy supplies, Michel conceded that “we are too much dependent on Russian gas.” However, he added this was not a recent realization, pointing to the 2020 European Green Deal as one long term solution to over-reliance on Russia.