On Tuesday, the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia will fly to Kyiv as part of a European Union mission to meet with Ukraine’s senior leaders as Russia’s advance nears the capital. The visit by the presidents of three EU and NATO member countries comes as a series of attacks targeting a Kyiv residential neighborhood. Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic and Janez Jansa of Slovenia have joined Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s deputy prime minister for security and the leader of the conservative ruling Law and Justice party, joins them, making him the country’s most powerful politician.
They’ll meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal of Ukraine. Morawiecki wrote on Facebook that he and the other leaders were traveling in accordance with the European Union, citing Charles Michel, the chairman of the Council of the European Union, and Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission. He stated that the visit had been reported to the United Nations. “In such critical times for the world it is our duty to be where history is forged,” Morawiecki said. “Because it’s not about us, but about the future of our children who deserve to live in a world free from tyranny.”
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According to Michal Dworczyk, the head of Morawiecki’s office, the visit had been planned for several days but was kept secret for security concerns. He stated that Ukraine’s authorities would be provided with a plan for concrete assistance to the country. Large explosions erupted throughout Kyiv shortly before dawn, which Ukrainian authorities attributed to artillery attacks. In a 15-story residential building, the shelling sparked a massive fire and a frenetic rescue effort. One person has been killed, while others are still trapped inside. The entrance to a downtown subway station that had been used as a bomb shelter was also destroyed by shockwaves from an explosion. Trains will no longer stop at the station, according to city officials, who tweeted a photograph of the blown-out facade.
Morawiecki recalled former Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s visit to the capital of Georgia in 2008, when that ex-Soviet country was under Russian attack, on Facebook ahead of his departure. “Today Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine, the day after tomorrow the Baltic republics, and then maybe it’s time for my country, for Poland,” President Kaczynski stated at the time in Tbilisi. The presence of Jaroslaw Kaczynski is also symbolic. He is the surviving twin of Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane accident on Russian land in 2010 with 95 others while on his way to remember Poles killed by the Soviet secret police during WWII. The plane crash was ruled to be an accident by a Polish investigation.