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Day 113 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The leaders of France, Germany and Italy, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz, and Mario Draghi, have traveled to Kyiv to send a message of unity and European support to the Ukrainians and to address their aspirations to join the European Union.
This is the first time since the beginning of the war that these three European leaders have traveled to Ukraine, where they will meet with the President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss the conflict, which remains particularly focused on the east of the country.
There, Moscow maintains its offensive and its objective of controlling the strategic city of Sievierodonetsk, where several hundred Ukrainian civilians and military personnel are still resisting. However, in the south, Ukrainian troops have managed to create a counterattack line of up to 80 kilometers and to get within 15 kilometers of the occupied city of Kherson, according to the authorities.
Meanwhile, NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels to prepare for the summit in Madrid in late June. The organization is set to outline its deterrence, defense plans, and military spending to face new threats and Russia’s aggressiveness.
These are the keys and the latest developments.
Europe is united in its support for Ukraine. This trip “is a message of European unity to Ukrainians, of support to talk both about the present and the future, because we know that the coming weeks will be very difficult,” said Macron as soon as he arrived in Kyiv accompanied by Scholz and Draghi.
The three leaders arrived at a station in Kyiv swarming with Ukrainian military and where a caravan of vehicles was waiting for them on the same platform.
After a short hotel stop, a working lunch with Zelensky awaits them, followed by a press conference and a tour of war-damaged areas of the city.
This is the agenda of a quick visit joined shortly after by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who traveled separately from Bucharest.
Aid will continue, promises Scholz. Pending the outcome of his talks with Zelensky, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said before his arrival in Kyiv that the aim of this trip is to ensure solidarity with Ukraine but also the continuity of support for that country.
“We not only want to show solidarity, but also to guarantee that the aid we are organizing – financial, humanitarian, but also when it comes to weapons – will continue. And that we will continue with it as long as it is necessary for the struggle for Ukraine’s independence,” he said.
The Elysée insisted that it is necessary to find “a balance between Ukrainian aspirations” and those of other candidate countries for EU membership, stuck in their negotiations, as well as that “we must not destabilize or fracture the EU.”
NATO prepares its summit. NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss deterrence and defense plans and military financing, issues that will be the focus of their summit on the 29th and 30th of this month in Madrid.
All this with the focus on Ukraine, where the Atlantic Alliance will maintain its commitment to provide heavy weapons and long-range systems, as its Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, announced last night.
He also said that, during the summit, allied leaders plan to agree on a comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine to help it in the long-term to transition from Soviet-era military equipment to more modern ones like those used by NATO countries, which would enable it to improve interoperability with them.