When President Emmanuel Macron arrived in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, he said he was coming with a “message of unity.”
Accompanied by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the French leader, who positioned himself as the central interlocutor in Europe with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to end the war, said the three had arrived “to talk about both the present and about the future, because we know that the coming weeks will be very difficult.”
“This is an important moment,” Mr. Macron told reporters on the platform of the Kyiv railway station shortly after disembarkation.
They are the latest world leaders to travel to Kyiv as Russian troops failed in their attempts to quickly overthrow the Ukrainian government and take over the capital.
Until Thursday morning, French, German and Italian authorities refused to confirm the much-discussed trip, shrouding it in secrecy. Details of the night trip on a special train chartered by the Ukrainian authorities were provided by the President of France and an Agence France-Presse correspondent who was on board.
The train departed from an unprepossessing platform, partly made of dirt and overgrown with weeds, to an equally unprepossessing and unidentified station.
In photos taken by reporters on the train, the three leaders looked relaxed and smiling. Mr Macron, Mr Scholz and Mr Draghi had an overnight 90-minute meeting in Mr Macron’s train car for snacks and orange juice without their advisers.