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Ukrainian 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 offered him to address the summit.”

He added that the European Council was the first assembly Zelensky addressed after the Russian invasion began on February 24.

During an interview in Brussels, Michel told Amanpour: “We have to make sure that Putin will be defeated. This must be the common goal.
“It’s a matter of security, for the future of Europe and for the future of the world.”

Michel said he had spoken to Zelensky and the Russian president several times since Russia invaded Ukraine, hoping to help them reach “a ceasefire and make it possible a sincere lead in order to negotiate”.

“It is extremely difficult, because we are not sure that the Russian government is sincere,” he added. “We are not naive – we believe they are trying to attack the military in order to strengthen their positions in the negotiation talks.”

“But on the other hand, we have to change the balance of power in order to give President Zelensky a better position in these direct talks with Russia,” Michel said.

The European Council meeting is scheduled for March 24-25, with Ukraine as the main topic on the agenda. US President Joe Biden is confirmed Thursday to discuss Ukraine and transatlantic cooperation.

Michel also mentioned the sanctions, saying that the European Union “must be smart” about sanctions against Russia.

“We have decided on unprecedented sanctions” against Russia, he said, adding “we are targeting the oligarchs, we are targeting economic sectors in Russia”.

However, “we do not have exactly the same situation in Europe and the United States”, acknowledged the President of the European Council. “The oil or gas sector, for example. We are much more dependent in Europe compared to the situation in the United States.

“That’s why we have to be smart. 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.

Asked about Europe’s dependence on Russia for its energy supplies, Michel conceded that “we are too dependent on Russian gas”. However, he added that this was not a recent realization, pointing to the European Green Deal 2020 as a long-term solution to over-reliance on Russia.