Image from yesterday's Crimea Summit: António Pedro Santos/ Lusa
Image from yesterday's Crimea Summit: António Pedro Santos/ Lusa

Marcelo’s last day in Ukraine will involve private audience with Zelenskyy

Portugal’s Head of State is expected to invite Ukraine’s President to Portugal

Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, ends his two-day visit to Kyiv today with a meeting with Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and participation in the Independence Day celebrations.

The meeting has not yet been scheduled, explains Lusa, but as soon as Marcelo disembarked at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi railway station early on Wednesday, he confirmed it would be happening.

Yesterday, Portugal’s head of State travelled to various towns on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital that were under Russian occupation at the beginning of the invasion, exactly a year and a half ago.

He recognised that he was seeing “a different country” to the one Prime Minister António Costa came up against in May 2022, but he was still able to see the “scars” in the towns fleetingly occupied by Russian troops as they failed to make inroads into the capital. And during the afternoon summit, he reiterated not only Portugal’s commitment to Ukraine’s existential struggle, but emphasised that “any solution that does not include the issue of the Crimean Peninsula is just noise…”

This, and other characteristic quirks of Marcelo’s visit have clearly worked on the Ukrainians. Minister for Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has already called Marcelo’s trip “historic”, not least because he has been the first head of State to actually stay overnight in Kyiv. The decision shows that Portugal’s top man may be a notorious hypochondriac, but he isn’t easily intimidated.

Today is Ukraine’s Independence Day: the 32nd in the country’s chequered history. Because of the war, there will not be the usual parade, or the crowds, but a number of other heads of state and representatives of countries that support Ukraine are attending due to take part.

Says Lusa, “this year, tanks and the wreckage of Russian combat vehicles captured by Ukrainian troops are on display on Kiev’s main avenue”.

When President Marcelo does get his moment alone with President Zelenskyy, he has already told reporters that he means to invite him to Lisbon, for a time that suits “as his diary is very full”. Zelenskyy puts a lot of stock on international contacts, “but he has a war” to run, said the president.