António Costa and President Zelenskyy
Mr Costa believes the Ukrainian president has "exceeded all expectations in terms of his capacity for leadership and assertion". This is an image taken during Mr Costa's visit to Ukraine last year.

PM in Brussels maintains “full support” for President Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy talks to European Council today, following visits to London and Paris

Portugal’s prime minister António Costa is in Brussels for a summit to be attended by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and to which Portugal will be reiterating “all support for the struggle Ukraine is waging”.

Said the PM, “it would be a tragedy for the world” if the outcome of this conflict was victory for Russia.

While there are those who continue to argue that the sending of further defence equipment (namely modern tanks) is a potentially dangerous ‘escalation’ of Western involvement in this conflict, there is a much greater weight of opinion against allowing tyranny to get its way. Portugal is firmly on the side of that much greater weight.

It would be a tragedy for the world if the outcome of this war were a victory for those who are against international law, who do not respect international law, the right to the integrity of territories, the right to sovereignty of peoples, the right to self-determination of each of the nations. It is essential to secure this victory. This is absolutely clear”, said Mr Costa as he arrived this morning at the headquarters of the European Council.

The PM told Lusa that today will obviously be marked by the opportunity to speak directly with President Zelenskyy.” 

The meeting will be an opportunity to take “stock of the military situation” and how the EU bloc can “continue to support Ukraine in this vital fight against such a powerful enemy, in a brutal war“.

“Since the beginning of the war, we have tried to support, in the measure of our possibilities and as the different requests arise. Obviously, the first, most urgent request was humanitarian support, secondly also material support, support also for heating in this very hard winter. And, with regard to military support, we have provided all the support that has been requested, and that we have and that we are able to provide,” he added.

The PM reminded that “just yesterday, I had the opportunity to announce that we have all the conditions to deliver three Leopard tanks in March that had been requested in the scope of the European coalition that is being formed to provide a relevant set of equipment”.

He is keen to hear “what type of support is most important for Ukraine at this time”, but stressed that it is also important to discuss “perspectives of how peace can be built“. By perspectives, he was referring to Ukraine’s.

Ukraine was invaded and therefore it is Ukraine that has the right to define what are the conditions, the moment and the terms in which peace is negotiated. Now, the ambition of all of us is that this peace is possible. This must be the objective”, he said, stressing that it is always necessary to remember that “it was Russia that unleashed the war on February 24″, and that “it is Russia that must stop the war. It is Russia that must lose this war, and it is from there that peace will be built“.

Commenting on the ‘tour’ that Mr Zelenskyy has been making through Europe . the second time he has left Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian military offensive – Mr Costa said this “great diplomatic effort” is also a way of making all leaders aware of the importance of the moment in the conflict, and “transmitting information that he could not otherwise do with complete safety“.

It will also be an opportunity “to see with each of us how best we can optimise the effort in supporting Ukraine so that it can win this war and affirm the victory of international law.

“It is indisputable that President Zelenskyy impresses us all with his courage and determination”, the PM added. 

“If we go back a year, when this war began, the perspective that many had was that this war would end very quickly, with an inevitable and overwhelming victory for Russia. The capacity for resistance and mobilisation of its people and the entire international community around this statement of defence of international law is extraordinary. And I think that he is someone who has exceeded all expectations in terms of his capacity for leadership and assertion”.

After addressing the European Parliament, Mr Zelenskyy will be going on to meet with the entire European Council before a two-hour bilateral group meeting with heads of State and government of the EU 27.

Source material: Lusa