May 23. 2024. 8:22

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Zelenskyy cancels visit to Spain due to Russian offensive in north

Ukraine’s President Volodymir Zelenskyy has cancelled his visit to Madrid, scheduled for Friday (17 May), according to sources at the King’s Household, after announcing that he was to meet Felipe VI and then have lunch at the Royal Palace.

The Zarzuela Palace has not explained the reasons for the suspension of the visit, which was to be Zelenskkyy’s first bilateral visit to Spain and in which he was scheduled to also meet with the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, to sign an agreement on security matters.

Diplomatic sources say the Ukrainian president’s trip, which was also to include Portugal, was canceled due to the complex situation his country is facing in the face of the Russian offensive.

The government did not officially announce the visit, although, on Monday, government sources acknowledged that preparations were underway. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid and its head, José Manuel Albares, however, had avoided confirming Zelenskyy’s visit.

“On any movement of President Zelenskyy anywhere in the world, for security reasons, first of all, I am not going to comment, confirm, deny or add,” he said.

Albares said that on Monday, he had been in telephone contact with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba, but insisted that “for many reasons, including security”, he would not comment on the possible visit.

Ukraine is experiencing a Russian offensive on the new front, which opened on Friday in the north-eastern region of Kharkov.

Zelenskyy received the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in Kyiv on Tuesday, who reaffirmed Washington’s support for the Russian offensive and acknowledged that Ukraine is going through “difficult times”. He also confirmed that the US military aid approved last month has already begun to reach the front line.

Sánchez has also been reiterating Spain’s support for Ukraine, as he confirmed to Zelenskyy in the telephone conversation they held on 7 May, in which Zelenskyy assured him of this support for as long as necessary.

The prime minister reported that they discussed the progress of the security agreement between Spain and Ukraine, which was scheduled to be signed this Friday in Madrid.

On the occasion of this conversation, the President of the Government also announced that he will attend the peace conference in Ukraine next month in Switzerland.

(Fernando Heller | Euractiv)

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