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In Surprise Kyiv Visit, Polish President Urges Ukraine To Resist Russia’s ‘Demands’ Last Updated: May 22, 2022 By RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service
Polish President Andrzej Duda arrived on May 22 for a surprise visit to Kyiv and became the first head of state to address Ukraine’s parliament since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. In his speech to the Verkhovna Rada, Duda urged Ukraine not to give in to the “demands” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future,” he told lawmakers. “Nothing about you without you.”

He added that surrendering any Ukrainian territory would be a blow to the entire West and repeated Poland’s firm support for Ukraine’s membership in the European Union.

In April, Duda visited Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as part of a delegation with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia…

Duda’s visit came as Russian forces stepped up offensive operations across broad swathes of eastern Ukraine. There was heavy shelling around the northeastern cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, Ukraine’s military said.

Ukraine’s lead negotiator, presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak, told Reuters on May 21 that Kyiv had ruled out any cease-fire agreement with Russia that included ceding any Ukrainian territory.

“The war would not stop,” he said, in the event of such an agreement. “It would just be put on pause for a time. They’ll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale.”

Zelenskiy said in a video address to the nation the same day that the war “will only definitively end through diplomacy.”….” Excerpted from: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-poland-duda-visit/31862055.html Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

From the Office of the President of Ukraine:
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda who is on a visit to Ukraine, 22 May 2022.

“Poland today demonstrates historical level of support for Ukraine – Volodymyr Zelenskyy following the meeting with Andrzej Duda in Kyiv
22 May 2022 – 18:17

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda who is on a visit to Ukraine.

The heads of state talked in a vis-a-vis format. Then, talks between the Ukrainian and Polish delegations chaired by the presidents took place.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that today Poland is showing a historical level of support for Ukraine, our Armed Forces and citizens who were forced to leave their homes due to the Russian invasion.

“And today the President of Poland also said: Ukraine protects the rights and freedoms not only of its own, but also of every European country. Our friendly Poland and the whole European Union,” the President said during a meeting with media representatives following talks with Andrzej Duda in Kyiv.

According to the President of Ukraine, during the Russian aggression, the Ukrainian and Polish nations show strong ties at various levels.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure that we do not lose this friendship, this warm and strategic partnership,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed.

According to the Head of State, during the meeting with Andrzej Duda, in particular, the issue of strengthening the Armed Forces of Ukraine was discussed.

“We are grateful to Poland – they worked constantly, every day. And I want to note the special personal role of the President of the Republic of Poland in strengthening (the Armed Forces of Ukraine – ed.) and in the supply of weapons,” said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Also, according to the President of Ukraine, the current situation on the food market was discussed, in particular, the shortage of food products.

“Now we are thinking about unblocking the supply of our grain, etc. to European countries, Asia and Africa. Here we also work together with our Polish partners,” the President said.

In addition, the parties discussed topical issues of economic relations between Ukraine and Poland. Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for the representatives of the governments of the two states to hold a meeting in the near future to discuss the mentioned issues.

“It is important today to talk about the reconstruction of Ukraine. This is a signal that we will definitely win, I’m sure of it. And to rebuild Ukraine, we need the unity of the countries of the European Union, the United States, and all our friends. And we see Poland among the leading countries that will be in the program of reconstruction of Ukraine,” the President said.

Also, according to him, Poland today plays an important role in Ukraine’s movement towards membership in the European Union, because it understands as no one that our country has actually been part of Europe for a long time already.

“We think alike, we believe alike and we defend our freedom and independence. But there are bureaucratic, technical things, and on this path we need powerful ambassadors. And Poland is one of such countries,” the President said, adding that Ukraine expects to receive EU candidate status in June this year.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked all Poles for their help to Ukrainians who had to flee the war, and noted that after the victory he would be happy to visit those Polish cities that stood out in support of Ukraine and our citizens in these difficult times.

For his part, Polish President Andrzej Duda stressed that Russia’s war against Ukraine is not over, it is a given, people are still dying.

“Everything that is happening today in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions – a normal person cannot imagine it. Hundreds of people give their lives every day. This is the scale of the war, which Europe and the world have not seen for a long time,” he said.

Andrzej Duda is convinced that the end of the war requires support for Ukraine by the international community, not only humanitarian, but also military assistance.

“Ukraine needs weapons. Ukrainians have great morale and determination, but they need modern equipment to defeat such an enemy,” said the President of Poland.

He also stressed the importance of coordinated, strong sanctions pressure on Russia. It is necessary to isolate it at the international level and stop doing “business as usual”. In addition, according to Andrzej Duda, sanctions are needed that will affect Russia’s image, including expulsions from international organizations, sports associations, etc.

“We must find a way to create a situation where the war will completely cease to be beneficial to Russia, and will be a threat to Russia itself,” he said.

The Polish leader also stressed the need to already think about rebuilding Ukraine after the war.

At the end of the meeting, the President of Ukraine presented Ukrainian vyshyvankas to Andrzej Duda and the First Lady of Poland Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

The Presidential Office of Ukraine. The use of any materials posted on the website is permitted provided you link to http://www.president.gov.ua regardless of full or partial use of materials”. https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/polsha-sogodni-demonstruye-istorichnij-riven-pidtrimki-ukray-75269

Putin Only Understands Force,’ Says Ukrainian Ex-President In Call For United Response Against Russia May 21, 2022 14:32 GMT By Irina Romaliiska https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-poroshenko-unity-no-compromise/31861410.html

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has a simple message for his fellow politicians in Ukraine and leaders across the world: stay united and don’t compromise when dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin only understands force [and he] will go as far as the world allows him,” the 56-year-old politician and chocolate magnate said during an interview with Current Time, the Russian-language channel run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA. “We can’t create a precedent for the world — and even more so in Europe — where one state can forcefully change the borders that were established after World War II.”

The former president’s comments come as the Ukraine war approaches its third month and as fighting has shifted mostly to the country’s eastern Donbas region, where Ukrainian and Russian troops are engaged in a brutal and slow-moving battle of attrition. Ukraine’s military has performed better than many experts and officials predicted in the early days of the conflict and has successfully pushed Russian troops back from key areas, as Moscow has revised its war aims to capture smaller portions of Ukraine’s east and south.

Poroshenko says that there remains a substantial distance between Kyiv and Moscow for any negotiated end to the war and that the West needs to continue with the tough measures it has taken against the Kremlin, which he says are the only language that Putin understands.
“Putin wants to remove Ukraine as a state from the world map,” Poroshenko said.

“[Therefore], it’s impossible to talk about anything else apart from a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and a solution to the humanitarian situation. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of a country can’t be subject to compromise.”

The Ukrainian politician also says that Western leaders should not be deterred by Putin’s threats in speeches and statements about the prospect of using nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine. Poroshenko says that he sees this as empty rhetoric and that he believes the Russian leader is afraid of the repercussions for using them.

“He will be hindered by fear if he thinks of using weapons of mass destruction because Putin [knows] he will be destroyed by retaliatory strikes,” Poroshenko said.

A Call For Unity At Home

Poroshenko came to power in 2014 after a popular uprising saw former President Viktor Yanukovych flee the country and he later oversaw the outbreak of war with Kremlin-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. In 2019, he lost decisively in a presidential election to Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the two remained in a heated political battle that culminated in Poroshenko being charged with high treason prior to Russia’s February 24 invasion.

During the interview with Current Time, Poroshenko called for “unity within Ukraine” amid the war and said that he met with President Zelenskiy on February 24 and agreed to put their differences aside in order to “start from scratch.”

“Please understand that life before [Russia’s invasion] and after are completely different worlds,” Poroshenko said. “We have a responsibility to look into the eyes of the relatives of those [who died for Ukraine]. [They] didn’t give their lives so that we could return to the old ways again.”

During his five years in power, Poroshenko championed Ukraine’s integration with the European Union and NATO, signing an Association Agreement with the 27-country bloc and enshrining the country’s aspirations to join the military alliance into the constitution. However, he saw his popularity decline steadily amid a lack of anti-corruption reforms and the deterioration of living standards.

Poroshenko, who is one of Ukraine’s richest citizens, is a member of parliament and the leader of an opposition party called European Solidarity.

The high-treason charges were related to him allegedly organizing the sale of large amounts of coal from the Donbas in 2014 and 2015 while president, which prosecutors said helped to finance the separatists. Poroshenko denied the charges and said that they were politically motivated by Zelenskiy as an act of revenge.

Ukraine’s tumultuous domestic politics and the rivalries of its leaders have largely been put on hold since Russia’s invasion began. Poroshenko has appeared on Western news networks frequently, famously brandishing a Kalashnikov rifle on CNN and wearing a kevlar vest in Kyiv as Russian troops attacked the city in late February and early March and speaking out about the need for more Western support.

He has also been active on social media and on his YouTube channel, prompting some speculation by Ukrainian political commentators that he is looking to boost his image during the war in order to pursue high office again.

Poroshenko pushed back against being engaged in any political maneuvering and said that he remains focused on helping the Ukrainian war effort. The former president and foreign minister says that his biggest aspiration at the moment is for Ukraine to be admitted into the EU and for him to represent his country in the European Parliament.

“As a member of the European Parliament, I will pursue a very effective policy,” Poroshenko said.

Written by Reid Standish in Prague based off reporting by Irina Romaliiska
Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty