Belgium's prime minister in Ukraine: "The brutality of that Russian war is unreal"
Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib visited Borodianka and Bucha on Sunday, two towns near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that have been badly affected by Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. "The brutality of that Russian war is unreal," De Croo said.
In Borodianka, a town some 50 kilometres northwest of Kyiv, prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) and Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib (MR) and their delegation saw the devastation caused by the rocket and air strikes by Russian forces. They also paused at one of Banksy's artworks.
"This is incredibly poignant, although you only see the damage. Hundreds of people lived here and dozens of people have been executed," De Croo said in Borodianka. "When you look around, you don't see military installations. These are residential blocks, which the Russian air force decided to destroy."
"This shows how horrific wars are and that this must stop as soon as possible"
Borodianka was one of the hardest-hit Ukrainian cities by Russian bombing immediately after the Russian invasion began on 24 February. For weeks, Russian soldiers occupied the city. Finally, in April, Ukrainian soldiers liberated Borodjanka.
Then the delegation went to Bucha. After the withdrawal of Russian troops, hundreds of bodies were found in a mass grave near a church. "This shows how horrific wars are and that this must stop as soon as possible," minister Lahbib said in Bucha.
"We see children, civilians, being shot in cold blood for no reason. We can only denounce this and hope that justice will be done"
The fight against propaganda is also essential. "The Russians say - despite the photos - that everything was staged. We see children, and civilians, being shot in cold blood for no reason. We can only denounce this and hope that justice will be done," the minister said.
The prime minister and the Foreign minister travelled with a delegation to Ukraine earlier this weekend. On Saturday, they met with Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky in Kyiv. De Croo and Zelensky signed a joint statement in which Belgium joined an initiative to finance grain shipments from Ukrainian ports to the south.
On Friday, Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder (PS) also announced that Belgium's military presence in the east will double by 2023 compared to this year. To this end, Belgium will train a large number of military personnel. Ukraine will also receive state-of-the-art equipment.
Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo pictured during a visit to Borodianka in the Kyiv Oblast (province), on the second day of a visit to Ukraine, on Sunday 27 November 2022. Most of the buildings in Borodianka, a small town on an important access road to Kyiv, have been destroyed by Russian bombings in the first months of the Russian invasion. Prime Minister De Croo and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lahbib arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Saturday for an unannounced visit. Nine months ago, Russia invaded the neighboring country. Belgium will provide additional support to Ukraine. De Croo and Lahbib use the visit to announce additional Belgian support of around 37.4 million euros.
© BELGA PHOTO POOL Philip Reynaers