Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Poland PM visits Ukraine in latest show of solidarity in war against Russia | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Donald Tusk arrives in Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Ukraine’s war with Russia nears two years.

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has arrived in neighbouring Ukraine, aiming to strengthen relations after months of political friction between the two wartime allies.

Tusk met his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal on Monday and is scheduled to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Poland explores making more ammunition and military equipment part of a new aid package for Ukraine.

Warsaw has emerged as a key ally for Kyiv as it defends itself against Russia and seeks more financial and military support from Western partners. Poland has also taken in more than one million Ukrainian refugees.

“There is no more important issue than supporting Ukraine in its war effort – that is number one,” said Tusk, who assumed office last month, in comments carried on Polish television.

“Other questions must also be discussed, notably those linked to interests of Polish truckers, so there are things to discuss in Kyiv,” he added.

Relations between the two had deteriorated after blockades by Polish truckers at the border, which threatened to dent Ukraine’s gross domestic product (GDP). They agreed last week to suspend protests, which had been aimed at revoking Ukrainian truckers’ permit-free access to the European Union, until March 1.

Tusk’s visit coincides with Ukraine’s Unity Day holiday, which celebrates the unification of western and eastern Ukraine in 1919.

The visit also came as Zelenskyy announced draft legislation that could pave the way for foreigners fighting against Russia in his country to receive Ukrainian citizenship. The bill would formally allow Ukrainians to gain dual citizenship, with the exception of Russia.

Thousands of foreigners rushed at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to help fend off Moscow’s forces trying to wrest control of the country and topple Ukraine’s leadership.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin on Monday blamed Ukraine for an attack that started a fire over the weekend at a gas terminal at the Baltic port of Ust-Luga, more than 850km (530 miles) from the Ukraine border.

The gas facility belonging to Novatek, Russia’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), was set ablaze on Sunday in the western port town, close to Russia’s border with Estonia.

“The Kyiv regime continues to show its bestial face. They are striking civil infrastructure, people,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday when asked about the incident.

Tusk’s visit came a day after Moscow-installed officials in eastern Ukraine reported that Ukrainian shelling killed at least 27 people on the outskirts of a Russian-occupied city.

Peskov called the shelling outside Donetsk a “monstrous terrorist act”. The Ukrainian military denied it had anything to do with the attack. The two sides’ claims could not immediately be verified.

Ukraine’s allies have in recent weeks sought to reassure the country that they are committed to its long-term defence against the Kremlin’s forces amid concerns that Western support could be sagging.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and France’s new foreign minister, Stephane Sejourne, also travelled to Kyiv recently.

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