France, Germany and Italy have all been criticized for continuing to engage Russian President Vladimir Putin – and for not giving Kyiv the weaponry it needs. Ukraine feared that Western resolve would weaken as the war dragged on.
With Scholz at his side, Macron defended earlier comments that annoyed Ukrainians not to humiliate Russia, solemnly noting how the end of World War I sowed the seeds for World War II.
“Today we are side by side with Chancellor Scholz. A hundred years ago we were at war and the allies helped France win. France has made a historic mistake. He lost the peace because he wanted to humiliate Germany. The question of humiliation, I always put it in a future context, not in the current context,” he said.
“Today this war must be won, France clearly supports Ukraine to win,” Macron said. “Germany, like France, will never be in situations where it negotiates on behalf of Ukraine with Russia. Moreover, we have never done this.
Zelensky said it was important for him to hear that European leaders “agreed that the end of the war and peace for Ukraine should be as Ukraine sees it.” He said Ukrainians would continue to fight for all of their land.
Ukrainians and some of their European neighbors feared that Western powers would press for territorial concessions in the name of peace.
Scholz reiterated that there is no such intention to dictate anything to the Ukrainians, and that only they “can decide what is right in terms of agreeing on a peace which we are unfortunately very, very far”.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has expressed concern over the millions of tonnes of grain blocked in Black Sea ports by the war, saying it could lead to a “global catastrophe”. Italy has been a top destination for African migrants and could find itself overwhelmed by large-scale hunger in the southern hemisphere.
“We want the atrocities to stop and we want peace,” Draghi said. “But Ukraine must defend itself, and it will be Ukraine that chooses the peace it wants.”
The leaders traveled to Irpin, a Kyiv suburb that has seen intense fighting and where many civilians have been killed. They denounced the destruction there, with Macron saying he saw signs of “war crimes”.
As shocking images of such devastation have rallied support in the West, Ukrainian officials have expressed concern that “war fatigue” could eventually erode it, especially as rising prices and the upcoming US election increasingly dominate public concerns.
The United States and its European allies have donated billions of dollars in arms to Ukraine, and Germany and the United States recently announced new arms shipments.
While European leaders were in Kyiv, NATO defense ministers were meeting in Brussels to discuss plans to strengthen the military alliance’s eastern borders to deter Russia from planning any further aggression.
Many Ukrainians hope the visit will pave the way for significant new arms supplies. It also comes as EU leaders prepare to vote next week on Ukraine’s bid to become a candidate for membership in the bloc.
The war has increased pressure on EU governments to fast-track Ukraine’s bid, and Thursday’s pledge to back it and neighboring Moldova pushes the entire 27-nation union to do it. But the process is still expected to take years.
After the press conference, Zelenskyy made a digital appearance on big screens at tech shows in Paris, Amsterdam, London and Stockholm as what organizers called a 3D avatar. Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with futuristic fighters and the texts ‘Come to the Dark Side’ and ‘Dominate or Die’, he urged countries to help Ukraine bounce back from the war with a ‘global digital revolution’ .
Macron, Scholz and Draghi had been criticized for not coming sooner. Shortly after their arrival, the air raid sirens sounded.
Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president who is now deputy head of the Kremlin Security Council, called European leaders “knowledgeable about frogs, livers and pasta” and said their visit brought no benefit.
“Once again they promised EU membership and old howitzers, swallowed vodka and, like 100 years ago, took the train home,” he tweeted. . “And that’s all good. It just doesn’t bring Ukraine closer to peace. And the clock is ticking. … ”
President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, which borders Ukraine and has been a key destination for its refugees, arrived on a separate train. He said at the press conference that Romania facilitates the transit of Ukrainian exports, including cereals.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a number of other European leaders had already made the trip to show their solidarity with Ukraine, even when fighting raged closer to the capital than today.