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FRIDAY, December 02, 2022
European leaders visit Ukraine's Irpin in show of support

European leaders visit Ukraine's Irpin in show of support

THURSDAY, June 16, 2022

The leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Romania walked amid the ruined buildings of the Ukrainian town of Irpin on Thursday in a show of support which the Kyiv government hopes will be followed by concrete action to help it in the war with Russia.

They were shown around by Ukraine's Minister for Communities and Territories Development, Oleksiy Chernyshov.

Irpin, which had a pre-war population of about 62,000, was one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops before they pulled back from Ukraine's northern regions to intensify their offensive in the east.

Standing by gutted, burnt-out buildings, France's Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Olaf Scholz, Italy's Mario Draghi, and Romania's Klaus Iohannis, looked stern as they listened to a Ukrainian official explaining what had happened there.

Ukraine says Russia committed large-scale atrocities in Irpin. Russia denies the allegations.

The leaders, dressed in suits but not wearing any visible protective equipment, were surrounded by heavily armed soldiers.

Kyiv has accused France, Germany, and, to a lesser extent, Italy, of foot-dragging in their support for Ukraine, saying they have been slow to deliver weapons and have put their prosperity ahead of Ukraine's freedom and security.

Ukraine's bid to join the 27-nation European Union, and its demand for more weapons to fight off Russia, are expected to be two main themes of the EU leaders' talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later in the day. Zelensky did not accompany them to Irpin.

The EU executive is expected to propose on Friday (June 17) that Ukraine become a formal candidate for membership, diplomats and officials say. That would be a significant political gesture to the country as it resists Russia's invasion but is also something EU leaders are very divided on.

Macron, who had been criticized at home and abroad for not traveling to Ukraine earlier, had repeatedly said he would only go if and when the visit could be "useful" and not be just a symbolic show of support.

Zelenskiy is expected to push his visitors to send more arms to help his hard-pressed army withstand the Russian invaders.