The Polish president, along with the leaders of the three Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, were on their way to Kiev by train to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Zelensky.
Four European presidents come to Kiev together
“Our nations are showing support for Ukraine and President Volodimir Zelensky in this way,” Jakub Kumoch, an adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda, announced the trip on Twitter. These four leaders will meet the President of Ukraine today.
Kumoch, who is accompanying the Polish president, said “our goal is to support President Zelensky and the defenders of Ukraine at a critical moment”. Meanwhile, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tweeted that he was heading to the Ukrainian capital with a “strong message of political support and military support”.
Before boarding the train to Kiev, the four leaders met in the Polish city of Rzeszow, near the border with Ukraine. Kumoch did not disclose the trip schedule for security reasons, but said that the presidents would visit “the most important areas”.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier previously said he planned to visit Kiev with the four leaders on April 13 to show support for Ukraine. However, Kiev was not welcoming to him.
The German president did not give a reason, but Bild newspaper quoted a Ukrainian diplomat as saying that Steinmeier “has close relations with Russia” so “is not welcome in Kiev at this time”.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa visited Kiev by train on March 16, just as Russian forces closed in on the city. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, European Commission President von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also later visited Ukraine to show support for the country.
The visit comes as Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine has lasted for more than a month and a half. The war in Ukraine has caused 4.6 million people to leave the country for neighboring countries, most of them women and children, because Ukrainian authorities do not allow men of military age to evacuate.
Poland is one of the EU countries most critical of Russia. When the Ukraine crisis broke out, Polish officials called on the United States to deploy forces to Europe, expressing their desire to possess American nuclear weapons to deter Russia, and push the West to supply more weapons to Russia. Kiev and impose tougher sanctions on Moscow. It has also called on an international court to investigate allegations of civilians being killed in Ukraine.
Poland on March 23 expelled 45 Russian diplomats. Moscow responded by expelling 45 Polish diplomats on April 8. Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev last month warned Poland would pay a heavy price for “anti-Russian syndrome”.
The three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia earlier this month announced they would stop importing natural gas from Russia, after Moscow demanded that “unfriendly” countries pay for their gas purchases in rubles.