Ukraine: EU parliament president visits Kyiv
The first top European Union official to visit warn-torn Ukraine arrived in Kyiv on Friday.
Following her arrival, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola tweeted: "I'm in Kyiv to give a message of hope."
Metsola, who was elected in January, is in Kyiv to show the EU's support for Ukraine, though further details on the Maltese parliamentarian's trip have been withheld due to security reasons, her spokesperson said.
In mid-March, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, along with his Czech and Slovenian counterparts Petr Fiala and Janez Jansa, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv to show solidarity with Ukraine.
What did Metsola say?
Metsola met with Ruslan Stefanchuk, the chairperson of Ukraine's unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
Shortly after arriving, Metsola and Stefanchuk gave a joint statement, which the EU Parliament president shared on social media.
In the statement, she said the EU "will help you rebuild your cities and towns when this illegal, unprovoked and unnecessary war is over."
She added that the humanitarian and military assistance that has been flowing from the bloc into Ukraine will increase and pledged to "take care of your families who have been forced to flee."
Russia threatens to cut off gas supply to Europe
Meanwhile, Russia has announced plans to expand the list of EU officials banned from entering the country following Western sanctions over the Kremlin's military actions in Ukraine.
Russia has been hit with a barrage of sanctions since it invaded its neighbor on February 24.
And European shares on Friday kicked off the second quarter on a subdued note, after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to cut off gas supplies unless paid in local currency from April 1.
"If such payments are not made, we will consider this a breach of obligations on the part of our buyers," Putin said.
"The actions of the EU will not remain unanswered [...] the irresponsible sanctions by Brussels are already negatively affecting the daily lives of ordinary Europeans," senior Russian foreign ministry official Nikolai Kobrinets told the state RIA news agency.
Germany has insisted that it will pay in euros or dollars as stipulated in the contracts, and called Moscow's demand to pay in rubles "blackmail." Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany imported 55% of its gas supplies from Russia.
France's economy minister said that Berlin and Paris were preparing for a scenario where Russia turns off gas taps.
ab, jsi/rt (dpa, AFP Reuters)