Portugal’s Costa in Kyiv for talks on aid, EU accession

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa arrived in Kyiv on Saturday morning, where he will sit down with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to talk about the war-torn country’s bid for EU accession, as well as Portugal’s support package for Ukraine.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Costa said that he wanted to chart a “pragmatic” approach to Ukraine’s EU membership application, suggesting that the country first be economically integrated into the bloc.

“I intend to identify the specific needs required by the Ukrainian authorities and, from there, seek to build an immediate solution that unites the entire European Union,” Costa said in Warsaw on Friday. “I think Ukraine’s integration into the common market is very important, with the easing of customs rules.”

On April 18, Ukraine took the first official steps in its EU membership application, completing an initial questionnaire necessary to kick off the process at a record speed of 10 days.

Portuguese news outlet Público reported that as part of Costa’s one-day visit to the Ukrainian capital, the Portuguese prime minister — who is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Francisco André and Portuguese ambassador to Ukraine António Alves Machado — will also commit to continuing Lisbon’s supply of “military, humanitarian and financial equipment” to Ukraine. Costa will also hold talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal.

Costa becomes the latest European leader to touch down in Kyiv in a show of solidarity with Ukraine as it continues to face Russian aggression, particularly in the east of the country. On Friday evening, Russia’s Defense Ministry declared victory in the port city of Mariupol.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer visited Kyiv in March, following visits by the Czech, Polish and Slovenian prime ministers.

In April, Brussels dispatched European Council President Charles Michel to Ukraine, after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell made a visit. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola also traveled to Kyiv at the start of the month.