July 1, 2022

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Three leaders of EU countries arrived in Kyiv to show support, and meet with Zelensky

Three leaders of EU countries arrived in Kyiv to show support, and meet with Zelensky

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks to the press as he arrives for an emergency EU summit at the European Council, about the situation in Ukraine after Russia launched an invasion in Brussels, Belgium on February 24, 2022. John Thys/Pool via Reuters

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PRAGUE/WARSAW (Reuters) – The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in a show of high-level support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who briefed them on the war with Russia.

The three who came by train were the first foreign leaders to visit the capital since the Russian invasion last month.

“Your visit to Kyiv at this difficult time for Ukraine is a strong sign of support. We really appreciate it,” Zelensky said in an online post.

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Brief footage released by his office showed him speaking in Ukrainian and English to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala and Janez Jansa of Slovenia, who were also due to meet with Ukrainian officials.

The meeting was also attended by Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the country’s ruling Law and Justice party, who is seen as the country’s main decision-maker.

Russian air strikes and shelling hit Kyiv on Tuesday, killing at least four people, authorities said, as invading forces tightened their grip and the mayor declared a 35-hour curfew. Read more

“Here, in war-torn Kyiv, history is made. Here, freedom fights the realm of tyranny. Here our future hangs all in the balance,” Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

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The Czech Republic and Poland, former communist members of both the European Union and NATO, have been among the strongest supporters of Ukraine in Europe since the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal praised what he said was the “courage of true friends” and said the leaders would discuss support for Ukraine and further sanctions.

The Polish state-run TVBinfo reported that Morawiecki and Kaczynski also went to meet with Kyiv authorities.

Fiala said the decision to visit was taken in consultation with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Dorchik said the idea for the trip was agreed upon at a summit of European Union leaders in Versailles, France, last week.

But an EU official said there was no “formal mandate” extended by Brussels.

“It is a very valid initiative. Every initiative to restore peace to Ukraine is, of course, welcome,” the official said. “Some leaders may also ask: Will this endanger or improve the conditions for negotiations with the Russians. Of course, it remains to be seen. It is a fine line.”

Russia has described its actions as a “special military operation” in order to “discredit” Ukraine, which Kyiv and its Western allies reject as a pretext for an unprovoked and illegal attack.

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Additional reporting by Jan Lupatka in Prague, Paul Florkevich and Alan Sharlish in Warsaw, with David Leungren; Editing by Louise Heavens and Grant McCall

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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