Three EU leaders in surprise journey to Kyiv to show solidarity with Ukraine

Prime ministers of Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia to meet Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky

Rory Sullivan
Tuesday 15 March 2022 12:38 GMT
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Kyiv residents inspect damage after attacks hit Ukrainian capital

Three European leaders are travelling to Kyiv on Tuesday to express the bloc’s support for Ukraine, becoming the first foreign dignitaries to visit the capital since Vladimir Putin’s war began.

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia will reach the city by train, before meeting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. They crossed the border at 7am GMT, according to the Polish government.

The surprise trip was agreed at an EU leader’s meeting in France last week, Poland said.

“The purpose of the visit is to confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” Czech prime minister Petr Fiala said.

“The aim of this visit is also to present a broad package of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he added.

Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland, whose country has accepted 1.7 million Ukrainian refugees since the conflict broke out almost three weeks ago, also stressed the importance of the trip.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

Writing on Facebook, he said the visit was taking place on the 20th day of Russia’s “criminal aggression” against Ukraine.

“At such breakthrough times for the world, it is our duty to be where history is forged. Because it’s not about us, but about the future of our children who deserve to live in a world free from tyranny,” he said.

Their journey to Kyiv come as Mr Zelensky continues to urge stronger action from the rest of Europe. The continent must protect its own security by helping his country against Russia, he said on Tuesday.

“We all are the targets of Russia and everything will go against Europe if Ukraine won’t stand, so I would like to ask you to help yourself by helping us,” the Ukrainian president said.

As a result of the “difficult and dangerous” situation in Kyiv, the city’s mayor announced a 35-hour-long curfew, which is due to begin at 6pm GMT tonight. It will last until early on Thursday morning.

The announcement follows heavy Russia shelling in the capital overnight, which killed at least two civilians.

Additional reporting by agencies

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