Ukraine is fighting for its independence says Polish president

Viacheslav Ratynskyi/PAP

Ukraine is fighting Russia for its independence and territorial integrity, Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, said after talks in Kyiv on Tuesday with his Ukranian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Polish president arrived in the Ukrainian capital early on Tuesday morning on a visit that had been kept secret owing to security reasons.

Duda and Zelensky discussed present and future aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

"Today Ukraine is fighting in defence of its independence, in defence of the integrity of the Ukrainian state in the face of Russian aggression," Duda said.

"(The Russian aggression - PAP) did not start on February 24 but in 2014, with Russia's attack on Ukraine, which in fact began its occupation of Lughansk and Donetsk. But, most of all, it was the beginning of the Russian occupation of Crimea," Duda added.

Zelensky described the talks with Duda as "fruitful" and mainly focused on Polish aid to Ukraine.

"We reviewed a whole gamut of issues. Of course, we discussed defence and support for our Ukrainians in Poland," Zelensky said. He also expressed gratitude to Poland for its support of his country.

Later in the day, while speaking at the Crimean Platform meeting, Duda referred to Crimea, which Moscow invaded in 2014 and has since annexed, by declaring "Crimea is Ukraine" and adding that this "goes without saying."

"Many of us have to conduct an examination of the conscience as to what has happened in the last year," he added. "Did the de facto consent by many countries to the occupation of Crimea not send the wrong signal to Russia?"

The president also said that there could not be a return to "business as usual" with Russia.

Ukraine "must return to the situation it had before the Russian invasion" and "all areas that were occupied by Russia must be liberated," he said.

Duda also reiterated that "Poland is your supporter, ally, a home for all Ukranian families and children wishing to seek shelter."