French President Emmanuel Macron, together with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, visit the town of Irpin, devastated by the Russian invasion
In a gesture with a strong symbolic value, the leaders of France, Germany and Italy, the three most important countries in the European Union, traveled to kyiv this Thursday, where they are scheduled to meet with the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, and met first-hand the magnitude of the devastation caused by the Russian invasion when visiting Irpin, a town on the outskirts of the capital. Zelensky thanked the “solidarity” of these three countries while his defense minister called for new weapons to “reconquer” the territory occupied by Russia.
The presence of Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi in Ukraine aims to show European support at a difficult time in the war due to the advance of Kremlin troops in the Donbas region, in the east of the country. The trip also takes place a few days before the celebration of several international meetings in which the fate of Ukraine can be decided: the European Council, the G-7 meeting and the NATO summit convened at the end of the month in Madrid. .
After their planes landed last night at Rzeszów airport in southeastern Poland, Scholz, Macron and Draghi boarded a train that, after an 11-hour journey, took them to kyiv. Before they had to stop at the border, which they crossed on foot, later holding a meeting in the convoy that lasted until two in the morning. The meeting took place in the car reserved for Macron, whose stay was much larger than that of Scholz and Draghi, who complained that theirs were “basic”, a difference that the Italian Prime Minister justified by the condition of the Gallic leader. rotating president of the European Union.
When the train arrived in kyiv, anti-aircraft alarms sounded, as usual since the beginning of the invasion on February 24, due to the risk of Russian bombardment. “We have come to send a message of unity to all Ukrainian citizens. A message of support because the next few weeks will be very difficult,” Macron commented as he got off the convoy. The German chancellor, for his part, had already made it clear that his country is willing to continue helping Ukraine for as long as necessary. “We not only want to show our solidarity, but also to ensure that financial, humanitarian and arms aid continues,” Scholz told the Bild newspaper, stating that support will continue as long as the Ukrainians’ “fight for independence” continues.
The unity shown by the leaders of Germany, France and Italy with their visit to kyiv also sends a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who “thought he was going to divide us, but he has failed”, as the Italian Prime Minister commented a few weeks ago . Together with Macron and Scholz, Draghi highlighted during the visit to Irpin the urgent need for a ceasefire to be established as soon as possible to allow the peace negotiations to resume. The Italian then took the opportunity to respond to Oleskjy Arestovych, adviser to President Zelenski, who before the arrival in kyiv of the three European leaders had expressed concern that the visit was aimed at forcing the Ukrainian Executive to make some concession that would allow reaching an agreement with Russia that ends the war. “I am afraid that they will try to reach a kind of Minsk 3,” Arestovych said, referring to protocols reached in the Belarusian capital in 2014 that “froze” clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian fighters in Donbas.
“I have repeatedly stated that it should be Ukraine, and no one else, who decides which peace it accepts. It cannot be an imposed peace,” said the Italian Prime Minister, stressing that an agreement that is unacceptable to the authorities and people of Ukraine would not be “sustainable” in the medium and long term. At the same time, Draghi stressed the importance of rehabilitating war-torn areas even though a possible end to the armed conflict is not yet in sight. “We will rebuild everything,” he promised after learning first-hand about the situation in Irpin.
From Moscow, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, reacted to Scholz, Macron and Draghi’s visit to kyiv with the hope that the trip would not serve only to “fill Ukraine even more with arms”, which in his opinion would be useless because “It will lengthen the suffering of the people and cause even more damage to the country.”
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