European leaders visit Kiev

European leaders visit Kiev

The Prime Ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia are going to Kiev to meet with the President of Ukraine Zhelensky. Czech Prime Minister Peter Fila said the visit was coordinated with EU Commission President Ursula van der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. Through this visit, the three countries would like to personally express their ‘unconditional’ European support for Ukraine’s independence.

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As the Ukrainian capital Kiev was hit by a severe fire again last night, this trip promises to be a risky endeavor. Russia also showed earlier this week that it was increasingly targeting western Ukraine by bombing a military base near the Polish border.

ANP / Zuma Press

Dissatisfaction of Eastern Europe

There is dissatisfaction in Eastern Europe with the Western European approach to Ukraine. This also became clear after the European Summit in Versailles last week. For example, it was decided not to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate country at present. Slovenian Prime Minister Jansa later said: “There are those who think that the Ukrainians deserve a strong political message that they are fighting for their lives … and there are those who still discuss practices.”

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Poland specifically accused the Netherlands of delaying the membership process. By the end of February, eight Central and Eastern European countries had already called for Ukraine’s direct EU membership.

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Flights

Then the issue of warplanes. Ukraine has been asking for military assistance in the form of planes for several weeks. Many EU countries, including Poland, have old Russian MIGs that can be used by Ukrainian pilots to fly.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (R) and Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky (L) were on an earlier visit.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (R) and Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky (L) were on an earlier visit.ANP / EPA

Following US pressure to supply those planes, Poland indicated last week that it was willing to give its MIGs to the Americans so they could donate them to Ukraine. But surprisingly for Poland, this plan is not valid according to the United States. Outside of NATO, the purpose was precisely to provide Polish aircraft to Ukraine. This led to discontent in Poland, where they would be exposed directly to a possible Russian retaliation.

Refugees

There has also been cautionary criticism from Polish politicians over aid to welcome refugees. Warsaw Mayor Rafael Trusskovsky has called for more aid to be sent to the EU, among other things, as it threatens to stifle the reception of Ukrainian refugees. Trzaskowski also asks for more refugees to be distributed so that they are ‘not only received in Poland, Romania and Slovakia.’

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