Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stopped off in Poland on his way back to Kyiv from the US Thursday, extending the wartime leader’s first foreign trip since Russia’s invasion began in February.
Zelensky landed in Rzeszów Thursday, some 50 miles from Poland’s border with Ukraine, to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Zelensky’s office said in a statement.
“On the way home, I had a meeting with a friend of Ukraine – President of Poland Andrzej Duda,” Zelensky said in an Instagram post. “We summed up the year, which brought historic challenges due to a full-scale war. Also we discussed strategic plans for the future, bilateral relations and interactions at the international level in 2023.”
The two leaders discussed mutual defense issues, as well as humanitarian support for Ukrainian refugees inside Poland, Zelensky said.
Polish press confirmed the meeting Thursday, but reported no further details.
Poland — Ukraine’s western neighbor and a member of NATO — has taken in some 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion began.
The former Soviet satellite state has also provided Ukraine with nearly $2 billion in aid, weaponry and equipment since the war began.
The country has also gotten caught in the crossfire of the conflict. Last month, two Polish civilians were killed near the Ukrainian border after a missile hit an agricultural facility near the village of Przewodów.
The incident remains under investigation, but Polish and NATO authorities have said the deaths were likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that went off course while trying to counter a Russian bombardment.
Thursday’s meeting came as Zelensky was returning from the US, where President Biden announced an aide package that included an advanced air-defense system, the American-made Patriot missile battery.