How Zelensky’s ‘Secret’ Brussels Trip Became the Talk of the Town – POLITICO

When Volodymyr Zelensky made his dramatic trip to Washington, DC, it was kept under wraps until hours before he arrived.

When Ukraine’s president planned a similar visit to Brussels this week, it was splashed on news sites a full three days before his expected arrival. There was even a (hastily deleted) official tweet about it.

In other words, not great operation protection.

The “secret” trip is in doubt now that Zelenskiy could arrive to meet EU leaders during their regular summit on Thursday, just days away. And the blame game is on in the Brussels bubble.

Scrutiny has been trained on the European Parliament, which was expected to host Zelenskiy for a speech during his visit. Several officials told POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook that parliament is to blame for the leak.

Then there are the tweets.

“We look forward to welcoming you to Brussels, Mr. President Volodymyr Zelensky,” the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the parliament’s largest party, tweeted from its official account on Monday afternoon, after the story broke. in the media

The missive was later deleted. But screenshots never die.

Hours later, Bernd Leitz, spokesman for the European Council, which brings together the 27 EU leaders, intervened. he accept That Council President Charles Michel invited Zelensky “to personally participate in the future summit of the Council of Europe”. But he was silent on whether it would happen or not this the summit

“For security reasons, no further information will be provided,” Leits added.

Several people familiar with the talks told Politico on Monday that preparations are underway to welcome Zelensky to Brussels on Thursday. Zelensky will address parliament as well as lunch with EU leaders.

Monday’s leak could jeopardize those plans.

If Zelensky travels to Brussels, it will be the second time a Ukrainian president has left his country since the start of the war, following his visit to the US last December.

With threats to his life since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February, Zelensky’s visit to Washington DC was planned in the utmost secrecy, with only a few senior officials from both sides involved in the talks – a sharp contrast to the latest development in Brussels.

Officials told Playbook that the office of Parliament President Roberta Metzola was responsible for the leak, which occurred after all parliamentary parties were notified of the planned visit. The two officials added that Metsola’s office asked the EPP to delete its tweets after complaints from European Council officials.

A spokesperson for Metsola did not confirm the allegations. Spokesmen for EPP, the council and Metsolar’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

The office of the President of Ukraine likewise did not respond to a request for comment.

Wilhelmine Preussen and Veronika Melkozerova contributed reporting.