Mutual accusations have erupted among EU officials after a leak about Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy's possible visit to Brussels raised concerns about his safety, The Guardian reported.
Zelenskiy is reportedly planning a trip to Brussels this Thursday to meet personally with EU leaders at a summit and to address the European Parliament at an extraordinary session.
He is believed to have left Ukraine only once since the conflict began last February: In December, he made a surprise visit to Washington, where he addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress and called for increased military support. The trip had been planned in the strictest of secrecy because of concerns for his safety, although details had been leaked the day before.
About 48 hours before the supposed trip to Brussels, Italian media reported on the visit, and the European People's Party (EPP), a center-right group of MEPs, later tweeted about it.
The message was quickly deleted, but a screenshot was taken by Politico
European Council President Charles Michel, who organizes EU summits, holds the European Parliament responsible for the leak. His spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the visit, saying, there is an open invitation to President Zelensky to visit Brussels.
At the same time, Zelenskiy rejected any offers to travel to Brussels last week, saying the risks of his trips were high.
The unfolding scandal embarrasses European Parliament Speaker Roberta Metsola, whose officials have been accused of leaking information. She is also a member of the EPP team that briefly reported on the visit, the British media noted.
Separately, EU diplomats said Michelle and European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen were vocal in their support for Ukraine. The pair spoke in enthusiastic terms about Ukraine's prospects for joining the EU. But many member states argue that EU leaders should tone down their public rhetoric to avoid raising hopes of a quick accession to the bloc.