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Zelenskyy to co-host summit in Albania seeking more war support from southeastern Europe

By The Associated Press - | Feb 28, 2024

FILE - Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama, left, and his cabinet listen the speech of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via video conference in Tirana on May 3, 2022. Albania hosts on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2024 a summit of Southeastern European countries on peace, security and cooperation, focused on the war in Ukraine and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit the country. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda, File)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Ukraine’s president will co-host a summit with Albania’s government on Wednesday that’s meant to encourage further support for Kyiv by southeastern European countries as signs of fatigue grow two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion.

It is not immediately clear what the summit is expected to achieve beyond its stated goals of “peace, security, cooperation.” No agenda was available ahead of the summit. Officials with NATO member Albania gave no details.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend in person on the latest stop in an international tour that saw him in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to push for a peace plan and the return of prisoners of war from Russia.

Securing further support is key to Ukraine’s leader while his country faces battlefield challenges. Zelenskyy on Sunday announced that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action since Russia’s invasion — the first time that Kyiv had confirmed the number of its losses.

Ukraine has urged Western leaders to increase the joint production of weapons and ammunition, improve Ukrainian air defenses and put new pressure on Russia via expanded sanctions. The head of NATO has said the U.S.-led military alliance has no plans to send troops to Ukraine, and Germany, Poland and other countries this week have said the same.

Thirteen countries from southeastern Europe, including some of Ukraine’s neighbors, are expected to attend the Albania summit, along with officials from the European Union and other international institutions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Albania earlier this month.

But not all the countries are in full support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. Kremlin ally Serbia is the only European country that has refused to align with EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion. It continues signing cooperation agreements with Moscow.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009 and a candidate for EU membership, has voiced its full support for Kyiv against Russia’s invasion. It has provided military assistance in the form of ammunition and training of Ukrainian military. It was among the first countries offering shelter to Ukrainian refugees. It has joined international sanctions against Russian officials and institutions.

As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the last two years, Albania joined the U.S. in initiating resolutions against Russia’s invasion.


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