Three EU leaders visit Kyiv to show support and meet President Zelenskyy

Visit by prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia shows support in battle against Russia

Three EU prime ministers visit Kyiv and meet Zelenskyy

Three EU prime ministers visit Kyiv and meet Zelenskyy
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The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in a show of high-level backing for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who briefed them on the war with Russia.

The three, who arrived by train, were the first foreign leaders to visit the capital since Russia invaded last month.

"Your visit to Kyiv at this difficult time for Ukraine is a strong sign of support. We really appreciate it," Mr Zelenskyy said in an online post.

Brief footage released by his office showed him speaking in Ukrainian and English to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the Czech Republic's Petr Fiala and Slovenia's Janez Jansa, who were also due to meet Ukrainian officials.

Also in attendance was Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the country's ruling PiS party, who is regarded as the main decision-maker in the country.

Russian air strikes and shelling hit Kyiv on Tuesday, killing at least four people, authorities said, as invading forces tightened their grip and the mayor announced a 35-hour curfew.

"It is here, in war-torn Kyiv, that history is being made. It is here, that freedom fights against the world of tyranny. It is here that the future of us all hangs in the balance," Mr Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

The Czech Republic and Poland, former communist members of the EU and Nato, have been among the strongest backers of Ukraine in Europe since the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal hailed what he said was the "courage of true friends" and said the leaders would discuss support for Ukraine and further sanctions.

Polish state-run broadcaster TVP Info reported that Mr Morawiecki and Mr Kaczynski also went to meet the Kyiv authorities.

Mr Fiala said the decision to visit was made in consultation with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The idea of the trip was agreed to at an EU leaders' summit in Versailles in France last week, top Polish official Michal Dworczyk said.

But an EU official said there was no "formal mandate" extended by Brussels.

"It's a very valid initiative. Every initiative to bring peace back to Ukraine is, of course, welcome," the official said.

"Some leaders might also wonder: will this jeopardise or will this improve conditions for negotiations with the Russians? It remains to be seen, of course. It's a fine line."

Head of Nato concerned Russia may use chemical weapons in Ukraine

Head of Nato concerned Russia may use chemical weapons in Ukraine

Russia calls its actions a "special military operation" to "de-Nazify" Ukraine, which Kyiv and its western allies reject as a pretext for an unjustified and illegal attack.

Updated: March 15, 2022, 11:35 PM