EU leaders pledge support to Ukraine on anniversary of Stalin famine

European officials meet in Kyiv before possible new wave of migrants

(L-R) Lithuania's Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelenskyy attend a press briefing after the International Summit on Food Security in Kyiv. AFP.
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European leaders renewed pledges of support to Ukraine on Saturday on the 90th anniversary of the start of the Holodomor famine that affected millions of Ukrainians under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country would continue to resist Russian attacks that have systematically aimed at Ukraine's energy grid, causing power cuts as temperatures plunge with the onset of winter.

“Ukrainians went through very terrible things. Once they wanted to destroy us with hunger, now — with darkness and cold,” Mr Zelenskyy said in a video posted on social media.

“We cannot be broken."

Several European leaders were in Kyiv on Saturday to commemorate the victims of the 1932-33 Holodomor, Ukrainian for “death by starvation”, which is regarded by Kyiv as a deliberate act of genocide by Stalin's regime.

According to Polish and Lithuanian media, the prime ministers of these two EU countries were in Ukraine for talks that could focus in particular on a possible new wave of migration from Ukraine this winter.

Ukraine's Border Guard Service said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was in Kyiv and “honoured the memory of the Holodomor victims” at a memorial in the Ukrainian capital.

Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo was also in Kyiv on his first visit since Russia invaded.

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“Arrived in Kyiv. After the heavy bombing of recent days, we stand with the people of Ukraine. More than ever before,” he said on Twitter, posting photos of himself shaking hands with Mr Zelenskyy.

According to the Belga news agency, Belgium pledged a further €37.4m ($39 million) of financial aid for Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in a video statement €15m in aid to support Ukrainian grain exports, which have been disrupted by the war.

Politicians from Germany are set to recognise the Holodomor as “genocide”, according to a draft text of a joint resolution from the country's ruling coalition and the opposition seen by AFP.

The German resolution says that up to 3.5 million people are believed to have died that winter alone but historians put the total death toll as high as 10 million.

The Holodomor has long been a source of hostility between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian contests this designation, placing the events in the broader context of famines that devastated regions of Central Asia and Russia.

Updated: November 27, 2022, 8:39 AM