Despite the dangers brought upon by Russian bombardment campaigns, the prime ministers of three European countries, namely Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, traveled via train to Kyiv to personally meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to show their collective solidarity to Ukraine, which has successfully repelled the Russian invasion thus far.
“Europe must guarantee Ukraine’s independence and ensure that it is ready to help in Ukraine’s reconstruction,” said Morawiecki ahead of the meeting.
Their train reportedly departed before 9 AM local time from Poland, which shares a 310-mile border with Ukraine. Poland is also a country that has taken in almost 1.8 million Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war. Upon arrival, Ukraine thanked and praised the three leaders as the journey was reportedly hazardous as Russian troops are currently within the vicinity of Kyiv. More so, it was the subject of bombardments when the three European leaders were holding the meeting with Zelensky.
“We are here to admire your fight against such a cruel aggressor. This invasion has to stop. Those who are killed by Putin, they can never be forgotten. They are not forgotten,” said Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki. He also emphasized that Poland will not leave Ukraine alone in the time of war, stating that he knew Ukraine was fighting for not just their own security but also Poland and Europe’s security as a whole.
“We will never leave you alone. We will be with you. Because we know you are fighting not only for your homes, for your freedom, for your security, but also for ours,” the Polish leader said.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala admired Zelensky and Ukraine for their braveness. He also said through a tweet, “We know that you’re also fighting for our lives. You’re not alone. Our countries stand by your side.” Furthering his statement of support, he stated that all of Europe is standing with Ukraine and that the main goal of their visit was to say to the Ukrainian people that they were not alone.
It can be remembered that the Czech Republic had sent a $31.5 million assistance package to Ukraine and was sending more munitions such as machine guns, sniper rifles, and pistols to support the Ukrainian defense further. Poland had also given Ukraine substantial support, with the most recent one being the donation of MiG-29 fighter jets in coordination with the United States. However, logistics problems had urged the US to subsequently reject the proposal.
While they were in Kyiv, two residential areas were hit by Russian airstrikes around 6 AM. Loud explosions could be heard from the western portion of Kyiv, which had raised concerns for the safety of the European prime ministers. It was said that four people had been killed when a 16-story residential building had been shelled, with four more residential buildings being the subject of Russian bombardments. It was also during this day that two Fox News journalists, namely Pierre Zakrzewski and Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, were killed while they were inside their vehicles.
Despite the threat, the three leaders were eager to push on. The European Union was said to be informed of the trip as it was organized with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Members of the EU were informed during an informal meeting in Versailles, France. Furthermore, Russia was also told about the visit, as confirmed by Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz.
The three leaders also pushed on with the trip as it was considered necessary for the sake of solidarity. Slovenia’s Janez Janša emphasized that there was a need to send a strong message to Russia that Ukraine would be granted membership into the European Union. Following the meeting, Poland’s Morawiecki called for the European Union to grant Ukraine candidate status “very quickly.”
This seems to have worked as Zelensky had just announced that Ukraine has now gained membership to the European Energy Union via a tweet, which now means that they now share a single energy system.
After the meeting, Zelensky had thanked the three European leaders for their support and that he had full trust in said prime ministers. “I am sure that with such friends, with such countries, with such neighbors and partners, we will really be able to win,” said the Ukrainian President.
“When we are talking about the security guarantees, about our future in the European Union, or when we talk about the sanctions policy, we are 100% assured that whatever we are discussing, whatever we talk about, this will reach a positive outcome for our country.”
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