Russia Invades Ukraine and Zelensky Addresses Parliament

Oleksandr Kamyshin, President of Railways of Ukraine
Oleksandr Kamyshin, president of Railways of Ukraine (CNN)

The President of Ukrainian Railways said that the Prime Ministers of Poland, Czech and Slovenia, who went by train for Tuesday’s meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, took a “strong step” to show support for the country ravaged by wardespite being a “naive”.

“That’s really important to us, even if it’s naive,” Oleksandr Kamyshin told CNN Wednesday.

Kamyshin, the executive director of the national rail system, called the move naive because the delegation of EU leaders announced their travel plans while they were still en route to the capital.

Kyiv has been persecuted by a campaign of Russian air strikes on residential areas in recent days, including some apartment complexes – prompting a 35-hour curfew to begin on Tuesday night.

Ukraine’s rail system was not immune to those strikes. But Tuesday morning, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that he, along with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, were heading to Kyiv.

“I’m keeping their secret, but when I saw something published online, I was surprised. I didn’t understand it,” Kamyshin told CNN.

Along the way, Morawiecki wrote in a Facebook post: “Our mission is to be where history is made. Because it’s not about us, it’s about the future of our children, the who deserve to live in a world free of tyranny.”

Fiala also tweeted that “the purpose of the visit is to confirm the clear support of the entire European Union for Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.”

Security concerns have been on the 37-year-old railway operator’s mind since the war began.

Kamyshin and his top deputies spent three weeks across the country, managing 321,000 railway employees and about 1,450 moving stations. He believes the railway administration is a target for Russian bombs, so maintaining near-constant motion is a matter of personal safety.

“Even with my kids, I don’t tell them ‘Hey don’t reveal your location’, because people should understand that it’s war. I can’t instruct prime ministers.” , he said.

According to Kamyshin, the Prime Minister’s idea was to go to Kyiv by train because he believed that this was the safest means of transport.

He agreed, although a train station in Zaporizhzhia was hit by a Russian bomb on Wednesday morning, shortly after their visit, which left a crater-sized crater in the tracks and damage the station.

“Any intelligent person would choose trains these days,” he said. “Even with bombs everywhere, train stations and trains are the safest places in the country right now.”

Kamyshin said the delegation traveled on a special train with the railway’s newest four sleeper carriages. The only other passengers were members of the delegation or security forces.

“It was an ordinary train, an ordinary train, with ordinary carriages,” he said. “So [the delegation’s route] no more special than others. … It’s also the track that ordinary passengers also ride. “

The journey took about eight or nine hours, he said. The leaders spent several hours with Zelensky and his team before catching the overnight train back to Poland.

“For me, it is the best assessment of railways if foreign prime ministers choose railways over cars or helicopters, or any other alternative.

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