Greek PM Visit to Ukraine

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis made his first visit to Ukraine on Wednesday 6th March.  The unannounced visit was to the coastal city of Odesa, where he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  During his visit, there was an explosion from a Russian missile attack that occurred about 200 metres from where the pair stood.  The Russian attack was thought to be aimed at Zelensky, as analysis of existing evidence suggests, as Moscow was probably also aware of the presence of the Greek prime minister's visit there.  Moscow confirmed the attack, but claims that it was targeting a warehouse where naval drones are manufactured for the Ukrainian armed forces.  The missile attack reportedly took place at 11:45 am when the two government delegations were on a tour of the historic port of Odesa.

Whilst in Odesa, PM Mitsotakis visited the Museum of the Filiki Eteria (Friendly Society) which is now housed, since 1994, in the original old residence of the benefactor Grigorios Maraslis.  He also laid a wreath at the monument erected in the museum's courtyard in honour of the three founders of the organisation, Nikolaos Skoufas, Athanasios Tsakalov and Emmanuel Xanthos.  The Filiki Eteria, which played an important role in the Greek War of Independence, was founded in Odesa in 1814.  PM Mitsotakis also had the opportunity to talk with Ukrainian Greeks of the diaspora and expatriates who gathered at the museum to welcome him.

Greeks established colonies like Odesa (Odessos Ὀδησσός in Greek) on what are now Ukrainian shores of the Black Sea as early as the 6th century B.C.   These Greek colonies traded with ancient nations including the Scythians, Maeotae, Cimmerians, Goths and Slavs.  Most present-day Greeks in Ukraine are descendants of Pontic Greeks from the Pontus region between the fall of the Trebizond Empire in 1461 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829.  More Greeks arrived in Ukraine as Greek Communist refugees from many parts of Northern Greece, who had fled their homes and resettled following the Greek Civil War of 1946-1949.


After joint statements by PM Mitsotakis and President Zelensky, the Greek delegation left Ukraine by road and headed on a 3-hour journey for Chisinau, Moldova's airport, where they returned safely to Bucharest, the Romanian capital, on Wednesday evening.  Whist there, Mitsotakis participated in a two-day conference organised by the European People's Party, which included discussions on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis issued a clear message of support for Ukraine at the EPP conference in Bucharest on Thursday.  A day after a Russian missile missed Ukraine's president and PM of Greece by a few hundred metres, when it slammed into port infrastructure in Odesa.  "No one will intimidate us. I think we all have a message for the Kremlin:  We will not be afraid, we will continue to support Ukraine and its brave citizens for as long as it takes.  And we remain united on this issue.  We are sending a message that no violation of sovereign rights and international law will be accepted by the European family".

Five people were killed in the Odesa missile strike on Wednesday and more were wounded, with no injuries to the two delegations.