European Council President Charles Michel arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in a gesture of support as Ukraine marks 10 years since the start of mass protests that toppled a Moscow-backed president and set Kyiv on a resolute pro-Western course.

Michel’s visit to the Ukrainian capital 21 months into Russia’s full-scale invasion comes weeks before Kyiv hopes the European Union’s leaders will agree to launch the long process of formal negotiations for it to join the bloc.

“Good to be back in Kyiv – among friends,” Michel wrote on social media platform X, posting a picture of himself shaking hands with the European Union’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova, at Kyiv’s railway station.

Maia Sandu, president of Moldova, which is also hoping to secure the start of formal accession talks to the EU next month, travelled to Kyiv and met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Sandu posted a video of her, Zelenskiy and Zelenskiy’s wife Olena paying their respects to the scores of protesters – known in Ukraine as the “Heavenly Hundred” – who lost their lives during the revolution of 2014.

Ukraine, which gained independence from Soviet Moscow in 1991, marks a Day of Dignity on Tuesday to commemorate its two pro-Western and pro-democracy revolutions in 2004 and 2014.

Zelenskiy published a video address to the nation, in which he said Kyiv’s aspirations to join the European Union had been a “romantic dream” two decades ago but had now become a “reality”.

“Therefore, our candidate status and further accession negotiations should certainly result in Ukraine’s full membership in the EU,” he said.

“And we are doing all this despite the war. When our people are defending themselves and Europe right now.”

A senior EU official told Reuters last week that the formal launch of talks next month could be “at risk”, sounding a downbeat note at time when attention has shifted from the war in Ukraine to the conflict in Gaza.

The 2014 revolution, which the Kremlin casts as a foreign-sponsored coup, prompted Russian troops to seize and annex the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and back a militant insurrection in the east.