Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, welcomed the presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine with blue-yellow-and flags of Ukraine and the EU above main streets and some government buildings.
Lithuanian diplomats say this is the first visit by a leader of an EU country to eastern Ukraine since Russia annexed the Crimea region and Moscow-supported separatists invaded eastern territories in 2014.
After a number of delays, visa-free travels to 30 European countries will take effect on Sunday. The people of Ukraine see the regime as a crucial victory on the road of European integration, however, the joy is clouded by concerns over the administration’s corruption and continued fighting in the east.
The negotiations on opening of borders forced Ukraine to implement some of the reforms, for instance, introduce an advanced electronic declaration system.
Security situation will be high on the agenda of Grybauskaitė’s meetings with President Petro Poroshenko and troops who had their battlefield injuries treated in Lithuania.
Diplomats say the bilateral meeting between the two presidents should also address the upcoming Russian and Belarusian war games Zapad and plans of opposing the new German-Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The pipeline may deprive Ukraine of transit money and make Europe more dependent on Russian gas.