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Ukraine's Zelenskiy Calls For Tougher EU Sanctions On Russia

Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) and Donald Tusk shake hands in Brussels on June 5.

BRUSSELS -- On the second and last day of his visit to Brussels, Ukraine's newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called on the European Union to step up sanctions against Russia.

Following talks with European Council President Donald Tusk on June 5, Zelenskiy thanked the EU for its "unwavering support" and called for the "strengthening of sanctions to get peace back in Ukraine."

The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia -- including asset freezes and visa bans on Russian individuals and entities -- after Moscow seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and began supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed some 13,000 people.

Zelenskiy said that under his leadership Ukraine will continue to pursue EU integration, calling it "an assurance of the independence of the Ukrainian state, the welfare of the Ukrainian people, and the accelerated economic and technological growth."

He said that "countering Russian aggression and the consolidation of international support in the struggle for Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity" was among his key priorities.

The Ukrainian president also vowed to implement reforms and intensify the fight against corruption.

Tusk said that by making his first foreign trip as president to EU and NATO headquarters in the Belgian capital, Zelenskiy was sending "a strong and important signal."

The EU "will always be determined to help Ukraine strengthen its democracy and the rule of law, fight corruption, stabilize its economy, and pursue energy sector reforms," he said, adding that the bloc will remain "committed to Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity."

A comic actor with no previous political experience, Zelenskiy beat incumbent Petro Poroshenko by a large margin in an April 21 presidential runoff. He was inaugurated as president on May 20.

With reporting by AP
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