Zelenskyy will co-host summit in Albania seeking more war support from southeastern Europe

Zelenskyy on Wednesday called Albanian PM Edi Rama "Ukraine's unwavering friend" in a message on X, formerly Twitter, adding the two would "discuss defense and political cooperation, support for the Peace Formula, and security agreements."
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, right, welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before their meeting in Tirana, Albania, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, right, welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before their meeting in Tirana, Albania, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Photo | AP)

TIRANA: Ukraine's president will co-host a summit with Albania's government on Wednesday that is meant to encourage further support for Kyiv by southeastern European countries, as signs of fatigue grow two years after Russia's full-scale invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived before midnight Tuesday on the latest stop in an international tour that saw him in Saudi Arabia earlier Tuesday to push for a peace plan and the return of prisoners of war from Russia.

Zelenskyy on Wednesday called Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama "Ukraine's unwavering friend" in a message on X, formerly Twitter, adding the two would "discuss defense and political cooperation, support for the Peace Formula, and security agreements."

"I will propose supporting Ukraine's efforts to achieve just and lasting peace, as well as organizing the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland," he said, referring to the summit.

Zelenskyy is accompanied by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Rama wrote on Facebook that he was proud to welcome Zelenskyy for "a solidarity meeting and to further the commitment of our democracies against Russian aggression."

Securing further support is key to Ukraine's leader while his country faces battlefield challenges. Zelenskyy on Sunday announced that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action since Russia's invasion — the first time that Kyiv had confirmed the number of its losses.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, right, welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before their meeting in Tirana, Albania, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.
Zelenskyy says 31,000 Ukrainian troops killed since start of Russia’s full-scale invasion

Ukraine has urged Western leaders to increase the joint production of weapons and ammunition, improve Ukrainian air defenses and put new pressure on Russia via expanded sanctions. The head of NATO has said the U.S.-led military alliance has no plans to send troops to Ukraine, and Germany, Poland and other countries this week have said the same.

Thirteen countries from southeastern Europe, including some of Ukraine's neighbors, are expected to attend the Albania summit, along with officials from the European Union and other international institutions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Albania earlier this month.

But not all the countries are in full support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. Kremlin ally Serbia is the only European country that has refused to align with EU sanctions following Russia's invasion. It continues signing cooperation agreements with Moscow.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009 and a candidate for EU membership, has voiced its full support for Kyiv against Russia's invasion. It has provided military assistance in the form of ammunition and training of Ukrainian military. It was among the first countries offering shelter to Ukrainian refugees. It has joined international sanctions against Russian officials and institutions.

As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the last two years, Albania joined the U.S. in initiating resolutions against Russia's invasion.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, right, welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before their meeting in Tirana, Albania, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.
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