Three EU Leaders Visit Kyiv to Support Ukraine

    15 March 2022

    Three European prime ministers visited Kyiv on Tuesday. The prime ministers of neighboring Poland, Czechia and Slovenia came to Ukraine by train for the first such visit by foreign leaders since the Russian invasion.

    "It is our duty to be where history is forged. Because it's not about us, but about the future of our children who deserve to live in a world free from tyranny," said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Janez Jansa of Slovenia joined him on the trip.

    Fiala said the visit was to show complete "support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine."

    A firefighter walks outside a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
    A firefighter walks outside a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    Explosions, fires in Kyiv

    The European leaders arrived in a city still under Russian attack. Buildings were burning and workers were trying to save civilians from the damaged remains.

    Around half of the 3.4 million people who call Kyiv home have fled. Those who stayed are sheltering in underground stations.

    On Tuesday, several powerful explosions rocked Kyiv in the early morning hours. A tall building was burning after being struck by artillery. Firefighters tried to put out the fire and rescue workers helped those trapped inside.

    "Yesterday we extinguished one fire, today another. It is very difficult," said a firefighter who gave Associated Press reporters only his first name, Andriy. "People are dying, and the worst thing is that children are dying," he said. "They haven't lived their lives and they have already seen this."

    Sitting on the ground outside, Igor Krupa said he survived because he had slept under a shelter of furniture and metal weights. He told Reuters, "All the windows went out and all the debris went into the apartment."

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian artillery hit four buildings in Kyiv and killed several people. He called on Russian troops to surrender. "You will not take anything from Ukraine. You will take lives," he said. "But why should you die? What for? I know that you want to survive."

    Around the country

    In Mariupol, Russian forces have surrounded the city of 430,000 people for weeks. Local officials estimate the weeks-long attack has killed more than 2,300 people there and left survivors without food, water, heat and medicine.

    Mariupol city officials reported that 2,000 civilian cars were able to leave along a humanitarian pathway. The pathway runs for more than 260 kilometers west to the city of Zaporizhzhia. They said another 2,000 cars were waiting to leave.

    In the east, Russian forces launched more than 60 strikes overnight on Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv. Local administration chief Oleh Sinehubov said the strikes hit the city's historical center, including the main marketplace. He said buildings were still burning as rescuers pulled several bodies from the ruins of destroyed apartment buildings.

    In the western Ukrainian city of Rivne, officials said 19 people had been killed in a Russian airstrike on a television tower. If confirmed, it would be the worst attack on a civilian target so far in the northwestern part of the country.

    In the southern city of Mykolaiv, airstrikes killed nine people on Sunday. People prepared food for soldiers who were waiting for another round of attacks.

    "We are bombed during the day and during the night," said Svetlana Gryshchenko, whose soldier son was killed in the fighting. "It's a nightmare what Russia is doing on the territory of Ukraine."

    The United Nations says nearly 3 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war.

    Protests of the war

    The war has led to a complete ban on all independent media and free speech in Russia. But an employee of Russia's state TV Channel One entered a live news broadcast late on Monday and held up an anti-war sign. "Stop the war. No to war," she said. The broadcaster then cut to a different report.

    The independent group OVD-Info said the woman, Marina Ovsyannikova, was quickly arrested. She is one of the nearly 15,000 people who have been arrested for protesting what the Russian government describes as a "special military operation."

    I'm Ashley Thompson.

    Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters and Associated Press reporting.


    Words in This Story

    forge - v. to form or create

    tyranny - n. cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others

    extinguish - v. to stop something from burning

    debris - n. pieces that are left after something has been destroyed

    nightmare - n. a very bad dream