The heads of government of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia left for Kyiv on Tuesday morning to visit the Ukrainian government.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced on Twitter that meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal were planned.

Gerhard Gnauck

Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.

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Stephen Lowenstein

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His trip with Mateusz Morawiecki (Poland) and Janez Janša (Slovenia) was coordinated with the EU leadership, both Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Fiala wrote.

"The purpose of the visit is to express the European Union's unanimous support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence." This is the first high-level visit by elected foreign officials to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Six MEPs had already visited the country at the weekend.

According to Fiala, the three heads of government are traveling “as representatives of the European Council”.

During the visit, they also want to present a "package of comprehensive support" for Ukraine and its people.

Morawiecki wrote on Twitter: "Europe must guarantee Ukraine's independence and ensure that it is ready to support Ukraine's reconstruction."

Memories of solidarity visit 2008

His law firm announced that the trip was discussed in a small group at the EU summit in Versailles on Thursday, but that the planning was initially kept secret.

The train crossed the border between Poland and Ukraine around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

According to the timetable, the Kyiv Express from Poland would then need about eight hours to get to the capital.

On Tuesday, Russian troops shelled several inhabited high-rise buildings in Kyiv;

there should have been fatalities this time too.

Immediately after the start of the war, Poland and Slovenia acted as advocates for Ukraine, which had been invaded by Russia, and issued a joint declaration calling for the country's speedy accession to the European Union.

In Poland, government officials are now recalling the solidarity visit to Georgia when Moscow's troops threatened to attack the capital, Tbilisi, during the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.

Poland's then President Lech Kaczyński flew to Tbilisi with the heads of state and government of Ukraine and the Baltic States and warned that the targets of Russian aggression were "Today Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine, the day after tomorrow the Baltic States and then maybe my country".

The Slovenian Prime Minister Janša compared the Ukraine war with his country's war of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, in which he himself, as defense minister, organized the resistance against the numerically far superior Yugoslav People's Army.

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