A missile exploded near Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as the two leaders were visiting the Black Sea port city of Odessa on Wednesday.

At the time of the powerful explosion, the Greek delegation under prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was heading on Wednesday to the port of Odessa, where the official reception took place. It should be noted that Mitsotakis’ visit to Odessa had not been announced for security reasons.

The president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen condemned “the vile attack on Odesa”, mentioning that “no one is intimidated by this new attempt at terror, certainly not the two leaders on the ground nor the brave people of Ukraine.”

Kyriakos Mitsotakis had long expressed a desire to visit Odessa, in order to send a message of support to Ukraine, as well as a message to the Greek element of Ukraine, given that it is one of the most important centers of Greek education in Diaspora.

As it is reported from various local media, the visit was organized under conditions of utmost secrecy for security reasons. It was agreed in the last telephone conversation the prime minister had with the president of Ukraine at the end of January. The appropriate date was then sought through diplomatic channels.

The Greek prime minister after the attack said that “We will not be afraid, we will support Ukraine.”

“I was in Odessa yesterday with President Zelenskyy when a Russian missile hit the port, when we visited it, and I think we really should only have one message to the Kremlin: You will not scare us, we will continue to support Ukraine and its great citizens for as long as it takes. And of course we will remain absolutely united in our decision,” he added.

The prime minister first visited the city’s port, where he was briefed on the operation of the grain export corridor through the Black Sea and the Danube.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis then visited the administrative building of the port of Odessa, where he had a one-to-one meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This was followed by a meeting with the participation of the delegations of the two countries.

During the talks, the prime minister reiterated Greece’s continuing support for Ukraine, as well as its firm support for its European and Euro-Atlantic perspective.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed Greece’s willingness to assist in the reconstruction of Ukraine, with an emphasis on Odessa, a city of particular historical and cultural importance for Greece.

They also examined other areas of cooperation, such as the energy sector, where Greece plays an important role regarding the operation of Europe’s southern supply corridor and is developing the vertical interconnection corridor to better meet the needs of the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Immediately afterwards, the two leaders visited the housing complex that was hit a few days ago, resulting in the death of 12 civilians, including five children, where they laid flowers at the memorial in honour of the victims.

The prime minister then visited the museum of the Filiki Etaireia (Society of Friends), which is housed in the old residence of the national benefactor Gregory Marasli, and laid a wreath at the monument erected in the courtyard of the museum in honour of the three founders of Filiki Etaireia, Nikolaos Skoufas, Athanasios Tsakalov and Emmanuel Xanthos.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis also had the opportunity to talk with Greeks of the Diaspora and expatriates who gathered to welcome him at the museum.

“I wanted to come especially to Odessa – we managed and found a way to coordinate our programmes with President Zelenskyy – to let you know that we stand by you, we support Ukraine, but we also support you in your struggle to keep your Greek roots alive.

“I am deeply moved by the opportunity to meet you and I think we are all shocked by the tragedy especially of the Greek diaspora of Mariupol. We want to do everything in our power to put these very difficult moments behind us and look to the future with more optimism.

“But I really thank you for making the effort to come here today and I really wish you the best,” the Prime Minister noted.

“All of Europe supports Ukraine’s struggle for freedom and independence. And of course, Greece cannot be absent from this effort,” added Kyriakos Mitsotakis.