Symbolic visit of German, French and Italian leaders comes as Russia continues attacks across country
Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, have arrived in Kyiv on a symbolic joint trip to show their support for Ukraine as it struggles to resist Russian advances in the east of the country.
The three were pictured together overnight in a train from Poland used to transport high-profile guests to Ukraine, but little information was given about the details of the highly anticipated trip.
“It’s an important moment. It’s a message of unity we’re sending to the Ukrainians, of support, to talk both about the present and the future, since the coming weeks, as we know, will be very difficult,” Macron told reporters at the train station in Kyiv.
The three leaders were greeted with air raid sirens in the Ukrainian capital, as Russia continued to strike targets across the country. Local officials said on Thursday that an overnight Russian air-launched rocket strike hit a suburb of the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy, killing four and wounding six.
“We’re here, focused, and we’re about to meet President Zelenskiy now to visit a war site where massacres have been committed, and then to lead the conversations that are scheduled with President Zelenskiy,” Macron added.
Soon after their arrival, the three leaders were pictured visiting Irpin, a commuter town a few miles from Kyiv that was subject to some of the heaviest fighting in the first weeks of Russia’s invasion.
Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, who also arrived in Kyiv on Thursday by train is expected to join them for talks with the Ukrainian leader.
The visit comes as complaints grow louder in Kyiv about slow arms deliveries, with one official saying this week that Ukraine had only received 10% of the weapons it had requested from the west.
Scholz has become the main target of complaints, with Ukraine particularly unhappy with Germany’s military aid. The country’s ambassador to Berlin, Andrij Melnyk, told German broadcaster NTV that he expected Scholz to hand over heavy weapons that had been long-promised but not yet delivered.
The first joint visit from the leaders of the three largest EU economies is taking place a week before the EU summit where European leaders are expected to discuss Kyiv’s bid to join the 27-nation bloc.
Macron previously tempered Ukraine’s ambitions to join the EU, saying it could take “decades” for Ukraine to be accepted into the EU.