Czech, Polish and Slovenian PMs meet with Zelensky in Kyiv
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, together with his counterparts from Poland and Slovenia, met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv on Tuesday after traveling to the besieged capital by train. The three EU heads of government stressed in their message that Europe stands with Ukraine in its defence against Russia’s aggression. Negotiations revolved around securing further material help for Ukraine and expanding sanctions on Russia.
Together with representatives of Poland and Slovenia, Prime Minister Fiala expressed his admiration and support for Ukraine at a press conference in Kyiv after talks were held between the two parties on Tuesday evening.
All three EU heads of government also stressed the need to continue to supply the country with weapons. Poland’s President Mateusz Morawiecky added that Ukraine should be awarded candidate status for EU membership as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Slovenia’s Prime Minister Denys Jansha told his Ukrainian counterparts that their country was also fighting the wider European family of nations by defending its basic values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
The delegation to Kyiv also included Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, who expressed his condolences with all of the victims of the fighting and called for a NATO or wider international peace mission in Ukraine that would be active on the territory of Ukraine and able to defend itself.
Ukraine’s President Zelensky said that the “visit is a powerful expression of support for Ukraine”, adding that with “friends and neighbours such as these” he was “certain that Ukraine can win”.
The visit had been discussed at last week’s informal meeting of EU leaders in Versailles and had the approval of both the European Commission and other EU member states, Poland’s Prime Minister said. Leading Czech state officials, as well as politicians from a wide range of Parliamentary parties expressed their support for Mr Fiala’s decision to meet with his Ukrainian counterparts in person.
The Czech Prime Minister returned to Prague around noon on Wednesday. Aside from praising the bravery of the Ukrainian people, he also remarked that he had been impressed by the ability of the country’s leaders to remain strategic and rational in their thinking despite working in dangerous wartime conditions. He also offered further details on some of the topics that were discussed.
“We discussed the possibility of the formation of a wider international coalition of states, not just of the EU but of NATO for example, that would offer asylum to soldiers of the Russian Federation who decide not to fight and desert. We also spoke about the possibility of the EU being represented in Kyiv via a diplomatic mission that would be based there.”
The Czech prime minister also said that the topic of establishing a no-fly-zone had been touched on during the talks. While he admitted that the establishment of a NATO no-fly-zone was not realistic in the coming days, he said that Ukrainians would be able to secure their airspace by themselves if they are provided with the necessary weapons and military hardware.