Ukraine war: European leaders risk train ride to meet Zelensky
Ukraine has praised the courage of
three European leaders who made a long, hazardous journey by rail from Poland
to Kyiv in a show of support as the city came under further Russian attack.
The prime ministers of Poland,
Slovenia and the Czech Republic met Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on
Tuesday evening as a curfew began in Kyiv.
Afterwards, the Czech leader told
Ukrainians that they are "not alone".
The group are the first Western
leaders to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded.
"We admire your brave fight,"
Petr Fiala wrote in a tweet. "We know that you're also
fighting for our lives. You're not alone, our countries stand by your
Poland's Mateusz Morawiecki said that Europe
would never be the same if it lost Ukraine. Instead, he wrote, it would be a
"defeated, humiliated and pathetic version of its former self".
"Your visit is a powerful
expression of support for Ukraine," the country's president is quoted as
telling the group.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys
Shmyhal wrote on Twitter that "devastating" sanctions against Russia
had been discussed, including the "recognition of Russia as a sponsor of terrorism".
heard during meeting
As the talks took place, loud
explosions could be heard across Kyiv from fighting on the western edge of the
The European Union said the
politicians were not carrying any particular mandate, but that leaders in
Brussels were aware of the trip, as it was mentioned during an informal EU
summit in Versailles, France, last week.
Poland's deputy foreign minister
Marcin Przydacz admitted the trip was risky, but said it was "worth taking
for the sake of values". He said they had told the Russians the visit was
The leaders decided to travel by train
because flying by Polish military jet could have been viewed by Russia as
dangerously provocative, BBC Europe editor Katya Adler reports. It was not
immediately clear when their train would make the return trip to Warsaw.
Ukraine's president has repeatedly called on
Nato to impose a no-fly zone over his country's airspace, but Nato has refused.
Mr Zelensky said Ukrainians now understood
they could not join Nato. "We have heard for years that the doors were
open, but we also heard that we could not join. It's a truth and it must be
recognised. I am glad that our people are beginning to understand this and rely
on themselves and our partners who help us."