Military honours, tributes and praise welcomed Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena Zelenska, to Poland in a rare wartime foray out of Ukraine for the country’s president. While Zelenskiy has also travelled to the US, Britain, France and Belgium, the trip to Poland stood out because it was announced in advance and undertaken without the secrecy of past foreign trips.
It was also the first time that the couple had travelled abroad together since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, according to Marcin Przydacz, the head of the Polish president’s foreign policy office.
Zelenskiy travelled through Poland on previous foreign trips, but until now had not made it his sole destination. The purpose of the journey to Warsaw was primarily to thank a country that has been an international cheerleader for Ukraine, as well as a safe haven for Ukrainian refugees and a transit hub for Ukraine-bound humanitarian aid and weapons.
Zelenskiy and his wife were welcomed in Warsaw by the president, Andrzej Duda, who awarded his Ukrainian counterpart Poland’s oldest and highest civilian distinction, the Order of the White Eagle.
Duda told Zelenskiy he was a “unique man” and he had no doubt his “attitude, together with the bravery of the nation, has saved Ukraine”.
Poland would send 14 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, Duda said at a joint news appearance with Zelenskiy. “Four MiG-29s that remained in storage have been handed over to the Ukrainian armed forces in recent months. Four MiGs are now being given, so eight in total. We are ready … to give six more that are currently being prepared. We assume they could be transferred soon.”
Zelenskiy thanked the Polish leader, government and people for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine and giving fleeing Ukrainians shelter. He said: “You have not abandoned Ukraine, you stood with us shoulder to shoulder, and we are grateful to you. We believe this is a historic relationship.”
Маємо важливий візит із @ZelenskyyUa до Польщі. Рада знову зустрітися зі справжніми однодумцями України – паном Президентом @AndrzejDuda та першою леді Агатою Корнгаузер-Дудою. Попереду спільні зустрічі щодо наших проєктів та ініціатив. pic.twitter.com/ZeujSZpavo
— Олена Зеленська (@ZelenskaUA) April 5, 2023
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