Four EU FMs pay visit to Ukraine to express solidarity

2019-01-15, 18:33 update: 2019-01-21, 09:27
The foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia- Jacek Czaputowicz, Linas Linkevicius, Edgars Rinkevics and Sven Mikser, respectively - arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday to express solidarity with a country facing continuous Russian aggression.

Initially, the ministers were to visit Mariupol, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, but poor weather conditions forced military helicopters carrying the ministers to return to the city of Dnipro.

"We have come here to express solidarity with the Ukrainians in this difficult situation of progressing Russian aggression. We are aware of the Russian blockade (of the ship traffic - PAP) in the Sea of Azov, which weakens the region economically and certainly requires assistance, as well as the attention of the international community. We will appeal to Russia to withdraw from the blockade of this part of Ukraine and return to the path of observance of international law. This is the goal of our visit," Minister Czaputowicz told Polish journalists. 

The minister stressed that EU member states from the region want the problem of Russia's aggression towards Ukraine to remain in the centre of the international debate. "It is about maintaining pressure on Russia and maybe finding a solution for Ukraine," said Czaputowicz adding that the conflict is being dealt within the Normandy format and that there is also the Minsk Agreements "that are not observed by Russia and need to be remembered. There is also the possibility of influencing the UN forum. Poland, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council also acts in this respect," said the minister.

Minister Czaputowicz meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin also discussed Polish-Ukrainian relations. "We exchanged information about ongoing developments. Our relations are quite good and this visit shows the openness of the Polish side to Ukraine's proposals and expectations," said the Polish minister, but added that the main goal of this visit had an international dimension. 

Minister Czaputowicz also said that the Mariupol region needed financial and humanitarian support in the face of hardships faced by the local community after ports were blocked by Moscow. He also argued that this way the Ukrainian problem will remain on the EU's agenda, which will strengthen the bloc's resolve in its condemnation of Russia's actions.

Ending their visit, the foreign ministers declared that the international community does not accept the court trials Russia has initiated against the Ukrainian crews from the ships captured in the Kerch Strait.

"The international community jointly demands the unconditional release of the Ukrainian seamen," Czaputowicz stressed.

In late November, Russia opened fire on three Ukrainian vessels that tried to cross the Kerch Strait near Crimea, controlled by Russia, as they headed towards the Sea of Azov. The vessels were captured and their 24 crew members were detained.

According to Kiev, the Kremlin is trying to take control over the Sea of Azov and block the operation of the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk located on the Sea of Azov's coast. (PAP)