Ukraine, Zelensky expected in Brussels on Thursday but EU spokesman did not confirm visit

It would be the first visit to Europe since the start of the war

The European Union awaits the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Brussels next Thursday, coinciding with the start of the extraordinary European Council, in what it would be Zelensky’s first visit to Europe since the start of the war, two weeks before the first anniversary of the start of the invasion. Never spokespersons of the European Commission and the European Council neither confirm nor deny the possible visit of the Ukrainian president to Brussels.

“I cannot confirm – replies the chief spokesman of the EU executive Eric Mamer, during the daily briefing with the press – I have no information on the matter and we do not comment on these things in the press room”. Charles Michel’s spokesman, Barend Leyts, confines himself to reiterating that “the only comment I can repeat is that ‘there is an open invitation for President Zelensky to come to Brussels’, as we have always said”.

The leaders await the Ukrainian president just a week after the visit of the EU top management to Kiev for a double day of meetings, first the meeting between about fifteen commissioners and the Ukrainian government and then the EU-Ukraine summit. When asked about his visit to Brussels, Zelensky assured that such a trip was “unavoidable”, explaining however that there is a “significant risk” in making visits abroad. He admitted having discussed the option with Charles Michel: “I really want to travel, but there are risks because Russia could be preparing an offensive.”

The one in Brussels it would be the second trip abroad since the start of the Russian invasion almost a year ago. The Ukrainian president made a first visit to the US, which was officially confirmed only a few hours earlier, for security reasons.

The visit to Washington on December 22 was characterized by strict security measures and included, in addition to a meeting in the White House with President Joe Biden, a speech to Congress, in extraordinary session with representatives of both chambers. Zelensky left Washington with explicit pledges of more aid. Since then, the Ukrainian authorities have always left open the possibility of a second visit, this time to Brussels, after the successive visits to Kiev by the highest EU officials.

Meanwhile, today the committee for national security, defense and intelligence of the Ukrainian Parliament approved a new extension of martial law, the sixth since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, accepting the bill presented by President Zelensky. This was announced by deputy Yaroslav Zheleznyak on Telegram, explaining that martial law will remain in force for the next 9 days starting from 19 February. Martial law goes hand in hand with the ”general mobilization” proclaimed by Kiev a few hours after the start of the military aggression launched by Russia.