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Leaders return safely to EU after visit to Kyiv amid attacks

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a meeting with Slovenia Prime Minister Janez Jansa, Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on behalf of the European Council, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia safely returned to Poland Wednesday after a visit to Kyiv intended to show support for Ukraine as it defends itself against the Russian military onslaught.

The leaders met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday to convey a message of solidarity with Ukraine and of support for the nation’s aspirations to one day join the European Union.

They went ahead with the hours-long train trip despite concerns about risks to their security while traveling through a war zone. Although pronouncing their trip as an EU mission, officials in Brussels cast it as something the three leaders had undertaken on their own.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said Wednesday morning that the three had returned safely to Poland. Officials hadn’t given details about their schedule for security reasons.

Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic and Janez Jansa of Slovenia were joined by Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski – the chief of the ruling conservative party and the country’s most powerful leader.

At a news briefing late Tuesday in Kyiv, Kaczynski said he believed that a NATO peacekeeping mission is needed in Ukraine. The remark generated much discussion in Poland on Wednesday, with some commentators saying the prospect could risk drawing NATO into a war with Russia.