The leaders of the three major EU countries, France, Germany and Italy, arrived in Kiev on Thursday morning on a high-level visit designed to defuse tensions that Ukrainian officials view as sluggish support in their fight against Russia.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholes and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in the city on a special train that left Poland at midnight.
As soon as the three leaders arrived at their hotel in central Cay, the air raid sirens sounded, as if to remind them that they had gone to a country frightened by an unprovoked attack.
Although the three countries have pledged to provide arms to Ukraine’s defense against Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has not hidden the fact that he believes they are not acting adequately.
He was particularly critical of Sholes and Macron, to the point where he noted that both leaders were trying to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“[Scholz] And his government must not act to strike a balance between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, but to choose their priority, “Zhelensky told the German broadcaster ZDF earlier this week.
Zelensky also said harsh words to Macron. The French president sought to present himself as an ally of Ukraine and an honest broker with Russia.
In an interview earlier this month, Macron said, “We must not insult Russia, so that on the day of the ceasefire, we can build a way out of the diplomatic channels. I firmly believe that France’s role is to be a mediating force.”
Gelensky told the Financial Times, “To be a leader, you do not have to think of yourself as one, but as a leader.”
Speaking to reporters at a train station in Kiev, Macron said the leaders would go to the “battlefield where the assassinations took place” and talk to Zhelensky.
Asked if there was a message for the Ukrainians, he said, “The message of European unity is addressed to Ukrainian men and women.