As European leaders travel to Ukraine

The leaders of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia are visiting the Ukrainian capital today to support President Volodymyr Zelensky, as his nation desperately fights to repel. Russia, whose military now claims it controls the region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, bordering Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia—who appear in the photo above—traveled by train to Kyiv on Tuesday to show support for Ukraine as Russian attacks on the capital city intensified

The next step in Russia’s playbook will likely call for a public referendum to declare Kherson an independent republic — a tactic that the Kremlin could use as a pretext to cement its power in the conquered territory, according to Ukrainian observers.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a tweet that the three leaders will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal, in consultation with Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

“The aim of the visit is to express the European Union’s unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence,” said Fiala, who is traveling with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński and the Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša.

“At the same time, we will present a broad package of support for Ukraine and its citizens during the visit. The international community has also been informed of this visit by international organizations, including the United Nations.”

Fiala, Morawiecki, and Jansa are traveling to Kyiv by train and crossed from Poland into Ukraine before noon, Michal Dwoczyk, an aide to Moraweicki, told reporters.

The Polish leader called it a historic mission.

“It is our duty to be where history is forged. Because it’s not about us, but about the future of our children who deserve to live in a world free from tyranny,” Morawiecki said.

The three leaders will arrive in a city that is still under bombardment, forcing many people to spend nights sheltering in underground stations. Russian forces stepped up strikes overnight on several suburbs of Kyiv as part of their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Nearly three weeks into a war that Western countries say Moscow believed it would win within days, Russian forces have been halted outside Kyiv despite the targeting of the city and its suburbs.

Hosting the foreign prime ministers in his own capital would be a symbolic success for Zelensky, who has stayed in Kyiv to rally his nation with nightly messages.

In his most recent message, Zelensky called on Russian forces to surrender, saying they and their officers already know that the war is hopeless.

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