Pavel and Caputova Visit Kyiv To Meet Zelenskiy and Show Support For Ukraine
In Kyiv, the presidents met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and paid tribute to the fallen defenders of Ukraine by laying wreaths. Photo credit: Petr Pavel, via Facebook.
Kyiv, April 28 (CTK) – Czech President Petr Pavel and his Slovak counterpart Zuzana Caputova arrived in Kyiv by train this morning, shortly after many sites in Ukraine, including the capital, became the target of a new series of Russian missile attacks overnight.
This is the first trip of Pavel to Ukraine in his capacity as head of state. He was sworn in on 9 March.
Shortly after his inauguration, Pavel agreed on the date of the trip by telephone with Zelenskiy. They agreed that the visit would take place together with Caputova, who had visited Ukraine previously.
Upon arrival at the railway station in Nemishaieve, a few dozen kilometres north-west of Kyiv, the Czech and Slovak presidents were greeted by the Deputy Foreign Minister and former Ukrainian ambassador to the Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis and Czech ambassador to Kyiv Radek Matula.
In Kyiv, the presidents met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and paid tribute to the fallen defenders of Ukraine by laying wreaths.
While in Kyiv, they also commemorated the Czech volunteer company, which is considered to be the basis of the Czechoslovak legions in Russia, the voluntary units that contributed to the establishment of the independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 and were fighting the Bolsheviks in Russia at the end of World War I.
Pavel and Caputova first remembered the oath of the Czech company from October 1914 by laying flowers shortly after 11:30 local time (10:30 CEST).
The Czech company was the first volunteer unit of Czechoslovak citizens on the Eastern front and became the basis of Czechoslovak units in Russia during World War I. The date of their oath is viewed as the moment of the formation of the legions in Russia.
Pavel and Caputova also went to Kyiv’s St. Michael Square, where photographs are displayed in an adjacent street of men and women who died defending Ukraine during the current conflict. At the square, they also saw Russian military equipment that had been destroyed in Ukraine.
Pavel and Caputova chose the same means of transport to Ukraine as other European and world political figures who had visited the country in recent months. They flew by special government planes to the Polish airport in Rzeszow, from where a police convoy drove them to the train in Przemysl.
Strict security measures accompanied the journey, with the presidential delegations protected by armed guards. The date of the visit to Kyiv was not announced in advance for security reasons, and the passengers aboard the train had to switch off their mobile phones because of the risk of being targeted.
Early this morning, Russia carried out another series of air attacks on Ukrainian towns and infrastructure. An air alert was in force for several hours for the whole country except for the Western regions. According to Ukrainian authorities, the missile and drone attacks killed at least five and injured several others. Blasts were reported in Kyiv as well, but without any major damage or victims.
During the first part of their trip, Pavel and Caputova visited the towns of Borodianka and Bucha, which became a symbol of the Russian war crimes last spring. Several hundred bodies of Ukrainian civilians, including women and young children, were found in the streets and in a mass grave in Bucha after Russian troops left it.
Other Czech politicians have already visited Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) went to Kyiv less than three weeks after the Russian attack, and last October, several members of the Czech government visited the country. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) and Defence Minister Jan Cernochova (ODS) have also been to Ukraine.
Per capita, the Czech Republic is among the strongest supporters of the invaded country. Cernochova said in February that last year, the Defence Ministry had provided Ukraine with 38 tanks, 55 infantry fighting vehicles, four pieces of aviation equipment and 13 self-propelled howitzers, among other assistance.
Fiala said the Czech government’s total military aid to Ukraine reached CZK 10 billion by mid-February. According to national security adviser Tomas Pojar, the Czech defence industry has sent arms and equipment worth a further CZK 30 billion to the war-stricken country.