The Wednesday afternoon meeting between visiting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky in Odessa lasted about half an hour and essentially reaffirmed Athens’ support for the embattled country in the face of an ongoing two-year Russian invasion.

Following the meeting, Mitsotakis visited the Museum of the Filiki Etairia (Society of Friends), a Greek revolutionary organization that laid the groundwork for 1821 War of Independence, and was expected to tour the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior, where restoration work is ongoing.

The Greek premier headed a delegation during an unannounced visit to the historic Black Sea port city despite the explosions that occurred after a drone attack in the city just before he met with the Ukrainian president.

All members of the Greek delegation were unscathed. The attack was pinpointed some 150 meters away from the visiting Greek delegation.

The powerful explosion occurred shortly before the meeting between the two leaders, while immediately after the attack an air raid siren went off in the vicinity. Following the meeting, the two leaders made joint press statements.

Mitsotakis referred to the attack near the convoy of the Ukrainian president, stating, “When we heard some sirens and shortly after, as we were heading to our cars, we heard a large explosion. For us, it’s the best reminder that there is a real war going on here. Every day. One that doesn’t only affect the front line.”

Addressing Zelensky, the Greek premier stated: “You know well, dear Volodymir, that my country has consistently defended peace, rejecting any unfounded revisionism. Even more so as it has faced aggression in the past. And in times when authoritarianism and despotism are black stains on our map and culture”.

Mitsotakis continued by expressing his standing support for Ukraine, both within the framework of the EU and NATO, “which will continue within the capabilities of Greece, and without weakening the defense capabilities of our country.”

On his part, the Ukrainian president posted on “X” (formerly Twitter) about the meeting, stating:

“Today in Odesa, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis @kmitsotakis and I paid tribute to those killed on March 2 as a result of the Russian “Shahed” strike on a nine-story residential building. This attack killed 12 people, including five children. Mark was 3 years old. Tymofiy was just four months old. Yelyzaveta was not even a year old when she died alongside her mother… Serhiy and Zlata were nine and eight years old. My condolences to the victims’ close ones.

I also spoke with the residents of the damaged building and neighboring houses. It is critical to provide everything needed for those who have lost their homes. They will receive the necessary assistance. Everyone will also receive compensation for their destroyed homes.

All relevant services on site were doing their jobs, assisting and fighting for our people’s lives. The rescue operation lasted nearly two days. I wish all of the injured a speedy recovery. I thank everyone who cares about our people and country.”

Greek Support for Ukraine

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis shake hands after a joint press conference, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine March 6, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

The Greek delegation includes Minister of State Stavros Papastavrou, advisors Anna Maria Boura and Aristotelia Peloni, as well as the PM’s close associates, Kyra Kapi and Alexandros Marakis, along with a photographer and videographer.

According to public broadcaster ERT, Mitsotakis’ visit to Odessa was conducted under the utmost secrecy and was intended to demonstrate Greece’s unwavering support for Ukraine and its people.

Mitsotakis will depart from Ukraine to Bucharest, where he is scheduled to participate in the conference of the European People’s Party (EPP).

According to sources, the Greek prime minister had informed French President Emmanuel Macron as well as other European leaders about his visit to Ukraine.