Irpin, Ukraine, Jun 16 (EFE).- The leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Romania on Thursday visited Irpin, a town outside Kyiv where nearly 300 civilians were found dead after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the area in late March.
French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi and Romanian president Klaus Iohannis were pictured touring the town that was ravaged during the weeks-long battle that ended in March.
The leaders’ visit to the capital “is a message of European unity to the Ukrainians, of support to talk about both the present and the future, because we know that the coming weeks will be very difficult,” Macron said Thursday morning upon his arrival.
Irpin, Macron said, was a symbol of the Ukrainian army and people’s “heroism” for halting Russia’s invading forces.
“On top of that, you see the stigmata left behind by the barbarity” of Russia’s troops, who he said were guilty of war crimes.
Earlier, Scholz had spoken of the symbolic importance of the leaders of France, Germany and Italy — three of the founding members of the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the European Union — visiting as a show of support “for Ukraine and the Ukrainians in this very special situation of war.”
“We want not only to show solidarity, but also to ensure that the aid that we are organizing – financial, humanitarian, as well as when it comes to weapons – will continue. And that we will continue with it as long as it is necessary for the struggle for Ukraine’s independence,” he said.
Scholz also insisted that sanctions being imposed on Moscow were crucial “because they contribute to the possibility that Russia will abandon its plan and withdraw its troops, because that is the goal.”
Draghi, meanwhile, said the international community remained united in its support for Ukraine.
“You have the world on your side,” Draghi told local authorities. “You have to see and know all this. I thank you for the testimony,” the Italian prime minister told the head of the regional military administration, Oleksiy Kuleba.
“This is a place of destruction but also of hope. This is a people who have been united in war and who can do things that perhaps they could not have done before,” he added.
The four EU leaders are scheduled to meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv later on Thursday. EFE