President Pavel in Ukraine: Attacks on civilian targets clearly planned
Czech President Petr Pavel arrived in Ukraine early on Friday morning, shortly after Kyiv and other cities were hit by Russian missiles. Accompanied by his Slovak counterpart, Zuzana Čaputová, Mr. Pavel visited the sites of atrocities and criticised Moscow’s attacks on civilian targets.
The Czech and Slovak presidents set off by plane on Thursday to Rzeszów in Poland, from where they were taken by car to Przemyśl, close to the border with Ukraine. They then boarded a train and from there continued their overnight journey to Kyiv together.
After arriving at the railway station in Nemishaieve, 38 kilometres northwest of the capital, the two presidents were welcomed by the Czech ambassador to Kyiv, Radek Matula, and the former Ukrainian ambassador to Czechia, Yevhen Perebyinis, among others.
Mr. Perebyinis said Mr. Pavel's presence in Ukraine is significant for the country.
“Czechia is a significant partner for us, a country which supports us and provides us with aid, including of the military kind. Of course, this is President Pavel’s first visit to Ukraine and I know President Zelensky is very much looking forward to meeting him in person.”
The first place the presidential pair headed directly after arriving at Nemishaieve railway station was Borodyanka, which was bombarded heavily by Russia at the beginning of the war and is one of the places where Ukraine accuses Russia of committing war crimes.
From there, President Pavel visited the town of Bucha, the site of Russian war crimes where a mass grave was discovered last spring. Mr Pavel emphasised the necessity of continuing to support Ukraine, saying this would decide whether or not the country will be able to defeat the Russian occupation forces.
“The moment we stop, or our help starts to wane, then they will be left alone and it will be very difficult for them to succeed. And it is in our interest that they succeed, because what they are fighting for here is also the basis of our world values.”
The Czech and Slovak presidents arrived in the country shortly after another round of Russian missile attacks had been launched on a number of Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, overnight. Mr Pavel commented on the attacks, saying that the sight of bombed-out houses brought back memories of the war in the former Yugoslavia, where he served, and criticising Russian attacks on civilian targets:
“When it happens this many times, that’s not a mistake – it’s clearly planned. And the plan is obvious – to create chaos and terror among the civilian population, and on the basis of that, create pressure on the government and break their will to defend themselves.”
A meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also on the agenda for this afternoon, and President Pavel is due to present plans for Czech involvement in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine during his visit to Kyiv.