June 17, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Hafsa Khalil, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Elise Hammond, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 7:05 p.m. ET, June 17, 2022
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4:32 a.m. ET, June 17, 2022

Leaders of Europe's biggest countries visit Kyiv to smooth tensions

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

When the loud sound of air raid sirens pierced through the relative calm of Kyiv on Thursday morning, it was a stark reminder for French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that they were visiting a country under attack.

Not that they needed one.

Like other leaders before them, they traveled to the Ukrainian capital on a special train that set off from Poland in the middle of the night and was guarded by dozens of heavily armed soldiers.

The three were in Kyiv on a mission to try and smooth out tensions over what the Ukrainian government perceives as a lack of tangible support from their governments.

Macron and Scholz in particular have been on the receiving end of much criticism in recent weeks, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky even going as far as suggesting the two were trying to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Macron appeared determined to change the narrative.

Arriving in Kyiv for his first visit since the war started nearly four months ago — and long after a number of other world leaders traveled there — Macron was keen to send a message of support.

Asked by reporters at the train station whether he had a message for the Ukrainian people, the French President said: "A message of European unity addressed to Ukrainian men and women, of support to talk about both the present and the future because the coming weeks, we know, will be very difficult weeks. I want to be in support and at their side."

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