“A conversation between friends who are prepared to support each other”
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, described his meeting today (Wednesday) in Kyiv with his Portuguese counterpart, João Gomes Cravinho, as a conversation between friends who “are prepared to support each other“.
João Gomes Cravinho arrived in Kyiv today for a one-day official visit that coincides with the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence and the six months of the war that Russia started on February 24.
“It was a conversation between friends who understand each other very well and are prepared to support each other,” Kuleba said at the end of the meeting, in statements gathered by Portuguese broadcaster RTP.
Kuleba pointed out that Cravinho’s visit has a special meaning because it takes place on an important day for Ukraine.
He recalled that Cravinho was in Kyiv a year ago when he “represented Portugal at the summit of the Crimean Platform”, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed in 2014 by Russia.
At the time, João Gomes Cravinho was defence minister and also attended the official celebrations of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.
“We just talked about the support we have been receiving from Portugal and other EU countries,” the Ukrainian foreign minister said of the meeting.
Kuleba said Cravinho also briefed him on the Ukrainian community living in Portugal.
“He praised the community for being an important part of society,” he said.
In a message released shortly after arriving in Kyiv, João Gomes Cravinho said he was the bearer of a “message of solidarity, and political, military, financial and humanitarian support” from Portugal.
As part of its support to Ukraine, Portugal will participate with other countries in rebuilding schools in the Jitomir region, about 150 kilometres from Kyiv, where it is estimated that about 70 educational establishments have been destroyed.
The initiative is part of a vast reconstruction plan announced by the Ukrainian government in July, which foresees a 10-year investment of over €754 billion.
The investment includes the costs of necessary reforms related to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union (EU).
Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union, declared independence on August 24, 1991.
The country was invaded by Russia in 2014, resulting in the annexation of Crimea and a Moscow-backed separatist war in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the Donbas (east).
Russia invaded Ukraine again on February 24 to “demilitarise and denazify” its neighbouring country. The cost of the first six months of the war in human lives is unknown.
The two sides have announced the casualties they inflicted on each other in the tens of thousands, avoiding mentioning their own losses.
However, on Monday, Ukraine’s military chief, General Valeri Zaluzhnyi, admitted the deaths of some 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers.
The last tally referred to by Russia dates from March 25, when Moscow admitted 1,341 dead and 3,825 wounded among its forces.
Civilian casualties are also unaccounted for, but the UN has confirmed the deaths of more than 5,500 people, warning that the tally will be considerably higher.
The war has also generated some 12 million refugees and internally displaced persons, according to the UN.
The Kyiv School of Economics has assessed the material damage so far at more than €114.2 billion.