Leaders of Europe’s biggest countries visit Kyiv to ease tensions


When the loud sound of air raid sirens rumbled through the relative calm of Kyiv on Thursday morning, it was a stark reminder to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that they were visiting a country under attack.

Not that they need it.

Like other leaders before them, they traveled to the Ukrainian capital on a special train that left Poland in the middle of the night and was guarded by dozens of heavily armed soldiers.

The three were in Kyiv on a mission to try to ease tensions over what the Ukrainian government perceives as a lack of tangible support from their governments.

Macron and Scholz in particular have come under heavy criticism in recent weeks, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky even going so far as to suggest the two were trying to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Macron seemed determined to change the narrative.

Arriving in Kyiv for his first visit since the start of the war nearly four months ago – and long after a number of other world leaders had been there – Macron was keen to send a message of support.

Asked by journalists at the station whether he had a message for the Ukrainian people, the French president replied: « A message of European unity addressed to Ukrainian men and women, of support to speak both of the present and of the future because the coming weeks, we know, will be very difficult weeks. I want to be in support and by their side. »

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