Greek leader affirms support for Ukraine, as strike lands nearby during visit to Odesa with Zelenskyy


Greece will continue standing at Ukraine’s side, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday, after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Black Sea port of Odesa where the leaders heard a blast from a strike nearby.

“My presence here reflects the respect of the entire free world for your people and underlines Greece’s commitment to remain by your side,” Mitsotakis told Zelenskyy in his first visit to the country since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Zelenskyy and Mitsotakis visited a residential building — the site of a Russian drone attack on Saturday that killed 12 people, including five children.

Mitsotakis said that during his tour sirens had sounded and they heard a big explosion as they headed toward their cars.

‘A real war waging’: Mitsotakis

“I believe that this is for us the most vivid reminder that there is a real war waging here,” Mitsotakis said, urging other European leaders to visit Ukraine to get a first-hand sense of the war’s impact on civilians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis lay flowers at site of a Russian drone attack on a residential area of Odesa, Ukraine.
Zelenskyy and Mitsotakis are seen laying flowers at the site of a Russian attack that occurred days before the Greek leader’s visit to Odesa. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/The Associated Press)

“You see who we’re dealing with, they don’t care where to hit. I know that there were victims today, I don’t know all the details yet, but I know that there were killed, there were wounded,” Zelenskyy said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in a post on X, said she strongly condemned “the vile attack on Odesa” during the leaders’ visit.

There was no immediate comment from Russia.

Ongoing attacks on port infrastructure

Ukraine’s Black Sea port infrastructure has been a target for Russian attacks, which have stepped up since mid-July when Moscow quit a UN-brokered deal that allowed safe passage of Ukrainian grain shipments.

Ukraine has since launched a its own “humanitarian corridor” for ships to try to circumvent a de facto Russian blockade of Kyiv’s seaborne exports via the Black Sea.

Greece, a NATO member and a traditional ally to Ukraine’s bid to join the military alliance and the European Union, has offered military help to the country.

“We discussed what other means we can use to expand the security space in the Black Sea. How we can add protection to our people — both military and civilian. We need more air defence,” Zelenskyy said.

Mitsotakis said that Greece would participate in a high-level Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland.

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