Zelenskyy on surprise Baltics tour to rally support against Russia

Ukraine president’s first stop is Lithuania. He will also visit ‘reliable friends’ Latvia and Estonia.

Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda shakes hands with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Vilnius, Lithuania, January 10, 2024 [Ints Kalnins/Reuters]Published On 10 Jan 202410 Jan 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has arrived in Lithuania as he starts a previously unannounced tour of three Baltic states to discuss his country’s war against Russia and Kyiv’s plans to join NATO and the European Union.

Announcing his arrival on X on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said he would go on to Latvia and Estonia in the coming days.

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“Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are our reliable friends and principled partners. Today, I arrived in Vilnius before going to Tallinn and Riga,” Zelenskyy posted.

“Security, EU and NATO integration, cooperation on electronic warfare and drones, and further coordination of European support are all on the agenda.”

Zelenskyy and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda are due to hold talks and a joint news conference was scheduled for later on Wednesday.

“The presidents will discuss the war in Ukraine, support for Ukraine and its integration in the European Union and NATO,” Nauseda’s office said in a statement.

The Ukrainian leader will also give a public speech, Nauseda’s office said.

The small countries on the Baltic Sea are among Ukraine’s staunchest political, financial and military supporters. Zelenskyy’s visit comes ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

With the prospects of a protracted war growing, Ukraine has been appealing to its Western allies for more financial and military assistance.

Ukraine has come under intense Russian shelling in recent weeks and retaliated with strikes on Russia’s border city of Belgorod.

An EU aid package worth 50 billion euros ($55bn) has been in limbo following a veto by Hungary, while the US Congress remains divided on sending additional aid to Kyiv.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies