In what marks the first visit of foreign leaders to the Ukrainian capital since Russia's invasion of the country began last month, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia are headed by train to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"The aim of the visit is to express the European Union’s unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence," Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced on Twitter. And Poland's Mateusz Morawiecki said in a social media post that the visit will happen on the 20th day of Vladimir Putin’s "criminal aggression against Ukraine."
“At such breakthrough times for the world, 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,” the Polish prime minister said. "The aim of this visit is also to present a broad package of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians."
Reuters notes that "The Czech Republic and Poland, former communist members of both the EU and NATO, have been among the strongest backers of Ukraine in Europe since the Russian invasion."
Traveling in the group includes: Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, as well as Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša.
While all three countries are said to be absorbing refugees, Poland - which shares a large border with Ukraine - is seeing by far the most, with an estimated more than 1.7 million refugees entering the country since Russia's Feb.24 invasion.
Two large Polish cities have recently warned they have reached "capacity" as refugees pour in - and there's not enough infrastructure or housing to support them, as The Guardian describes:
Ossolińska said many people working on the ground were now struggling to find places to accommodate everyone. "From day to day, it is much harder to find a private place for refugees."
Kraków’s mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, said that the city was also reaching its capacity, with 100,000 people arriving in the past two weeks. “Kraków is slowly losing the opportunity to accommodate new waves of refugees,” he said, adding that places were now being offered outside the city.
Together with Deputy PM Jarosław Kaczyński, PM @P_Fiala and PM @JJansaSDS we are going to Kiev to meet President @ZelenskyyUa and PM @Denys_Shmyhal. Europe must guarantee Ukraine's independence and ensure that it is ready to help in Ukraine's reconstruction.— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) March 15, 2022
Warsaw too is strained, with Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski saying that 300,000 Ukrainians have recently arrived. He said on Twitter: "Our city remains the main destination for Ukrainian refugees. [The] situation is getting more and more difficult every day."