KYIV: European Council President Charles Michel said Russia would fail to “execute” Ukraine’s “freedom” on a surprise trip to Odessa Monday during which he was forced to take cover when missiles again struck the Black Sea city.
“The Kremlin wants to execute your spirit of freedom and democracy,” Michel said in a video on Twitter.
“I am totally convinced they will never succeed,” he added, promising that the EU will help Ukraine “build a modern, democratic country.”
The EU chief said people in Ukraine are “tortured, raped and executed in cold blood,” saying Ukrainians are “resisting with courage.”
Michel was forced to take shelter earlier during a strike that came as he held talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, an EU official said.
“It was an air raid during the first meeting with the PM. They simply continued their tete-a-tete in the shelter,” a member of his entourage said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, who joined their talks by video conference, thanked Michel for visiting Ukraine on Victory Day, the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
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“I am very pleased that today the European Union, at the highest level, supports Ukraine at a time when manifestations of Nazism, unfortunately, exist and are being revived,” he said in a statement from his office.
Talks to unblock Ukraine’s ports
Ukraine said both sides discussed taking “immediate measures to unblock Ukraine’s ports for grain exports.”
Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has forced its grain exporters to look for alternatives to move their precious cargo.
The cargo is loaded onto trains, lorries or barges and taken to Romania, now a vital maritime export hub for Ukraine’s crops.
“In the port of Odessa, I saw silos full of grain, wheat and corn ready for export,” Michel said.
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“This badly-needed food is stranded because of the Russian war and blockade of Black sea ports causing dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries. We need a global response,” he added.