Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine
The leaders of the European Union’s three largest countries – France, Germany and Italy – arrived in Kyiv on Thursday morning on a high-profile trip designed to defuse tensions over what Ukrainian officials considered lukewarm support in the war against Russia.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in the city together on a special train, which departed from Poland at midnight.
As a reminder they were visiting a country terrorized by an unprovoked attack, the air raid sirens sounded shortly after the three leaders arrived at their hotel in central Kyiv.
Although all three countries have pledged to support Ukraine with weapons against Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made no secret of his belief that they are not doing enough.
He was particularly critical of Scholz and Macron, suggesting the two leaders are trying to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“[Scholz] and his government must choose not to do a balancing act between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, but choose their priorities,” Zelensky told German broadcaster ZDF earlier this week.
Zelensky also had harsh words for Macron. The French president has tried to present himself as both an ally of Ukraine and an honest broker with Russia.
Macron, in an interview earlier this month, said that “we must not humiliate Russia so that by the day the fighting stops, we can build an exit through diplomatic means. I believe. that France’s role is as a mediating power.”
Zelensky told the Financial Times that “to be a leader, you don’t have to think of yourself as one, but behave like a leader.”
Speaking to reporters at the train station in Kyiv, Macron said the leaders would visit a “war site where massacres were carried out” and speak with Zelensky.
When asked if he had a message for Ukrainians, he said, “A message of European solidarity to Ukrainian men and women, supportive of talking about both the present and the future. because the coming weeks, we know, are going to be very difficult weeks. I want to be supportive and be with them.”