PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have taken the night train to join Ukraine capital Kyiv, the French presidential office said on Thursday, confirming earlier reports.
France’s Ambassador to Kyiv, Etienne de Poncins, published on his Twitter account a photo taken published by the Italian daily La Repubblica paper of the three leaders in a train en route to Kyiv.
The visit by the three European leaders comes as Ukraine once again pleaded for more weapons to fend off Russia advances in the south and the east. Major-General Dmytro Marchenko, who leads Ukraine’s forces in Mykolaiv, said his troops could achieve victory over Russia if they are given the right weapons.
The trip has taken weeks to organise with the three men looking to overcome criticism within Ukraine over their response to the war.
The symbolic visit comes a day before the European Commission makes a recommendation on Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate, something the biggest European nations have been lukewarm about and are set to discuss at a leaders’ summit on June 23-24.
Kyiv has criticised France, Germany and, to a lesser extent, Italy, for alleged foot-dragging in their support for Ukraine, accusing them of being slow to deliver weapons and of putting their own prosperity ahead of Ukraine’s freedom and security.
On his visit to Romania on Wednesday, Macron voiced a tougher line on Russia and said Europe needed to send a strong signal to Ukraine, while insisting Kyiv would eventually have to negotiate with Moscow.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, John Irish, Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)