Only in Ukraine a few hours, and already doing things differently
The president of Portugal has broken new ground in terms of visits by heads of State to Ukraine: he has entered an improvised trench in Moschun – a town ‘decimated during the Russian occupation.
Marcelo has only been in the country for a few hours, but it’s clear he is wasting no time in getting around.
“This has never happened before! He’s the first to do this,” commented Lesya Arkadievna, the deputy governor for the Kyiv region, in astonishment when she saw Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa enter the trench.
Moschun is on the outskirts of Kyiv. “Almost nothing was left standing while Russian troops pulled out” of the area, writes Lusa, commenting that the town’s recovery has barely begun.
Marcelo reportedly “did not hesitate” in entering the trench, where he had to walk almost in a crouch.
“I’ve been here with several presidents and ministers, and none have done this,” Lesya Arkadievna continued.
“Locals and members of the regional administration watched with some surprise”, adds Lusa.
Emerging, with dirt on his blazer, Marcelo remarked that it was “reminiscent of the trenches of the First World War” – which of course is the irony of much of this conflict.
A short conversation with locals “gave the president of Portugal one certainty”, Lusa continues: if occupation comes again even “children are prepared and know how to defend themselves…” albeit, this in itself is tragic, as children should not have to live with this kind of knowledge nor these kind of memories.
It is early stages yet; the Ukrainians haven’t had the experience of Portugal’s head of State on national territory before, but it is very possible Marcelo will continue to surprise.
This far he has already visited Bucha – another town martyrised in the conflict, where he pledged Portugal’s absolute support in trying to seek justice. What happened in this town where Russian soldiers murdered so many civilians was “very strong, very shocking, very inhuman”, he said.
And as this text went up online, Marcelo was already being photographed in Irpin – another landmark of horrors committed in the name of Russia’s illegal invasion.
In between the various ‘moments’ of this first day, Marcelo has already found the time to talk to PCP communist leader Paulo Raimundo (on the party’s continued oblique stance on this conflict) and address the dismal story coming out of Loures hospital, where an elderly man was left to die on a stretcher, when he should have been transferred for treatment to another hospital.
But his thoughts are clearly centred on Ukraine, where he commented: “In a way, the sentiment one gets is that if the feeling of Ukrainian national pride was once strong, since the invasion it has become a great deal stronger”.
More to come over the hours before Marcelo is received by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tomorrow.