Iron diplomacy

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The first foreign delegation to Kyiv during the 2022 invasion meeting with Ukrainian leaders in front of the situation room after arriving by rail Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the heads of governments of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia in Kyiv. (51939885707).jpg
The first foreign delegation to Kyiv during the 2022 invasion meeting with Ukrainian leaders in front of the situation room after arriving by rail
US secretary of state Antony Blinken on the train to Kyiv Secretary Blinken Takes a Train Into Kyiv from Poland (52028640277).jpg
US secretary of state Antony Blinken on the train to Kyiv

"Iron diplomacy" (Ukrainian : залізна дипломатія, romanized: zalizna dyplomatiia) refers to the practice of transporting world leaders from Poland through Ukraine via rail since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] The expression was coined by Oleksandr Kamyshin, the head of Ukrainian Railways, because many diplomats were being shuttled by train to and from Kyiv, the capital city, as the use of Ukrainian airspace was impractical due to the invasion. [10] [11] [9] In addition, the first foreign leaders to visit Kyiv had decided to avoid travelling from Poland to Ukraine via a Polish military jet, in case Russia interpreted it as an escalating move. [12] The journeys, including US President Joe Biden's 2023 visit, begin in Poland with a flight to Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport and then transfer to Przemyśl Główny railway station, where the visiting leaders board an overnight train to Kyiv.

Contents

Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukrainian Railways Oleksandr Kamyshin by Augustas Didzgalvis.jpg
Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukrainian Railways

Rail system

External media
Images
Searchtool.svg A conductor showing the dining car [13]
Searchtool.svg A well-furnished meeting room [13]
Searchtool.svg The first foreign delegation in transit [13]
Searchtool.svg Von der Leyen amongst furnishings [14]
Video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Scholz and Draghi in Macron's room [15]

Since the start of the Russian invasion in 2022, Ukraine's airspace has been closed and its roads have become unreliable due to fighting. [14] As a result, the country has been forced to rely heavily on its rail system for transport, including for humanitarian aid, refugees, weapons, and food for export. [14] [10] As the rail system is crucial in Ukraine's resistance to the invasion, Ukrainian Railways has continued to run despite repeated attacks against the system, such as the attack on Kramatorsk station. [10] Security has also increased, and Aleksandr Kamyshin, who runs Ukrainian Railways, is now armed and accompanied by two bodyguards, keeps his schedule and location secret, and avoids physical contact with his family. [10] [lower-alpha 2]

Diplomats and other world leaders who wish to travel through Ukraine are faced with a similar lack of options, so they regularly take part in Kamyshin's iron diplomacy program. [14] The train ride takes nearly 10 hours. [16] Ukraine also provides a security detail for the visiting leaders, and Kamyshin also keeps their travel details secret, but sometimes information ends up being publicized before the delegation has left Ukraine, which increases the risk of an attack. [14] [17]

Carriages

One of the carriages used in the iron diplomacy program was originally constructed for rich tourists to the Crimean peninsula. [14] [13] Completed in 2014, it was used only a few times before Russia annexed the peninsula early that year. [13] Recently modernized carriages from the Soviet era have also been used for the iron diplomacy program. [14] Although most cars have been retrofitted with upscale furnishings to allow visiting leaders to travel comfortably, not all carriages have been refurbished to the same standard. [14] Discrepancies regarding train car accommodations were noted by the French president Emmanuel Macron, the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, and the Italian prime minister Mario Draghi during their joint trip to Kyiv in June 2022. [15]

Notable visits

DateTravellersRepresentingToNotesRf.
2022-03-15 Mateusz Morawiecki, prime minister
Petr Fiala, prime minister
Janez Janša, prime minister
Jarosław Kaczyński, deputy prime minister
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czechia
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
Kyiv
  • First visit by foreign leaders during the invasion
[12]
[18]
[13]
2022-04-01 Roberta Metsola, parliament presidentFlag of Europe.svg  EU Kyiv
  • First visit by a top EU official during the invasion
  • Trip details withheld for security reasons
  • Kamyshin asserted weeks later that "[a]ll Western leaders ... arrived by train"
  • Metsola addressed the Verkhovna Rada in person
[9]
[19]
[20]
[21]
2022-04-08 Ursula von der Leyen, commission president
Josep Borrell, foreign affairs representative
Eduard Heger, prime minister
Flag of Europe.svg  EU
Flag of Europe.svg  EU
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia
Kyiv
[14]
[22]
[23]
[24]
[25]
2022-04-09 Boris Johnson, prime ministerFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  UK Kyiv
[13]
[26]
2022-04-09 Karl Nehammer, chancellorFlag of Austria.svg  Austria Kyiv
[27]
2022-04-13 Alar Karis, president
Egils Levits, president
Gitanas Nausėda, president
Andrzej Duda, president
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
Kyiv
[28]
[29]
2022-04-24 Antony Blinken, secretary of state
Lloyd Austin, secretary of defense
Flag of the United States.svg  US Kyiv
  • Visit occurred hours before Krasne railway station was attacked, amongst others
  • Unclear if the secretaries were still in transit at the time of the attacks
[9]
[30]
2022-04-28 António Guterres, secretary-generalFlag of the United Nations.svg  UN Kyiv
  • Visit occurred two days after Guterres held talks with Putin in Moscow
  • Central Kyiv was attacked while Guterres was still in the city
  • Two rockets exploded in the Shevchenkivskyi District, shocking the UN team
[31]
[32]
[33]
2022-04-30 Nancy Pelosi, speaker Flag of the United States.svg  US Kyiv [34]
2022-05-08 Justin Trudeau, prime minister
Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister
Mélanie Joly, foreign affairs minister [lower-alpha 3]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Kyiv
[6]
[35]
2022-05-22 Andrzej Duda, presidentFlag of Poland.svg  Poland Kyiv
  • Duda addressed the Rada, becoming the first foreign head of state to address the parliament in-person since the Russian invasion
[36]
2022-05-26 Sanna Marin, prime ministerFlag of Finland.svg  Finland Kyiv
[37]
2022-06-16 Emmanuel Macron, president
Olaf Scholz, chancellor
Mario Draghi, prime minister
Flag of France.svg  France
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Kyiv
[38]
[39]
[15]
2022-06-16 Klaus Iohannis, presidentFlag of Romania.svg  Romania Kyiv
  • Iohannis joined Macron, Scholz, and Draghi in Kyiv but had travelled separately
  • He also announced his support for granting EU candidate status to Ukraine
[40]
[39]
2022-06-17 Boris Johnson, prime ministerFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  UK Kyiv
  • The UK agrees to help train Ukrainian soldiers to improve their combat readiness
[41]
2022-06-29 Joko Widodo, presidentFlag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia Kyiv
  • First visit by the leader of an Asian country during the invasion
  • Visit occurred shortly after Widodo attended the G7 summit in Bavaria
  • Indonesia is scheduled to host the next G20 summit in Bali
[42]
2022-07-03 Anthony Albanese, prime ministerFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Kyiv
[43]
[44]
[17]
[45]
2022-07-25 Alejandro Giammattei, presidentFlag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala Kyiv
  • First visit by the leader of a Latin American country during the invasion
[46]
2022-10-20 Ignazio Cassis, presidentFlag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg   Switzerland Kyiv
[47]
2022-10-25 Frank-Walter Steinmeier, presidentFlag of Germany.svg  Germany Kyiv
  • Steinmeier was due to visit on 20 October, but was advised to postpone due to the tense security situation in Kyiv caused by a wave of cruise missile and drone attacks across Ukraine
  • Steinmeier planned to visit in April 2022 along with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, but his invitation was rescinded by Ukraine. Steinmeier had a telephone conversation with president Zelenskyy in May, during which Zelenskyy extended an invitation to Steinmeier to visit.
  • Steinmeier also visited the town of Koriukivka, where he met Ukrainian officials in an air-raid shelter due to the launching of Iranian-designed Russian drones from Belarus.
[29]
2022-11-19 Rishi Sunak, prime ministerFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  UK Kyiv
  • Announced new anti-air military aid
[48]
2022-11-26 Alexander De Croo, prime minister
Katalin Novák, president
Ingrida Šimonytė, prime minister
Mateusz Morawiecki, prime minister
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
Kyiv
  • The four leaders together with president Zelenskyy launched the "Grain from Ukraine" initiative, which aims to export Ukrainian grain to countries vulnerable to famine and drought
[49]
2022-11-28 Urmas Reinsalu, foreign minister
Pekka Haavisto, foreign minister
Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, foreign minister
Edgars Rinkēvičs, foreign minister
Gabrielius Landsbergis, foreign minister
Anniken Huitfeldt, foreign minister
Tobias Billström, foreign minister
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden
Kyiv [50]
2023-01-30 Mette Frederiksen, prime ministerFlag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Mykolaiv, Odesa
  • Frederiksen was received by Zelenskyy, and the two leaders visited a hospital treating wounded soldiers and the Port of Mykolaiv
[51]
2023-02-20 Joe Biden, presidentFlag of the United States.svg  United States Kyiv [52]
2023-02-21 Giorgia Meloni, prime ministerFlag of Italy.svg  Italy Kyiv
  • Meloni met with president Zelenskyy, and visited Bucha and Irpin.
[53]
2023-02-23 Pedro Sánchez, prime ministerFlag of Spain.svg  Spain Kyiv
  • Sánchez met with president Zelenskyy, and visited Bucha and Irpin.
[54]
2023-04-28 Petr Pavel, president
Zuzana Čaputová, president
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia
Kyiv, Dnipro
  • The two presidents visited Borodianka and met with president Zelenskyy
  • Pavel also visited Bucha and Dnipro
[55]
[56]
[57]
2023-06-10 Justin Trudeau, prime ministerFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Kyiv
  • Trudeau and deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland met president Zelenskyy
  • Trudeau laid a wreath at a memorial for fallen Ukrainian soldiers at St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, addressed the Ukrainian parliament, and announced C$500 million in new military aid for Ukraine
[58] [59]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. From left to right: Polish deputy prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński, Czech prime minister Petr Fiala, Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  2. Kamyshin also carries his son's stuffed owl with him. [10]
  3. Also part of the Canadian delegation were Jody Thomas, national security advisor; Katie Telford, chief of staff; and Brian Clow, deputy chief of staff. [35]

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