Marcos, Zelensky talk Ukraine war in long-requested phone call

Marcos, Zelensky talk Ukraine war in long-requested phone call
Composite photo of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Presidential Communications Office and AFP / Sergei Supinsky

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:16 a.m.) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. finally spoke Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, about the war in the eastern European nation in a call that was long sought by Kyiv.

Zelensky first announced the conversation with Marcos on Twitter, thanking the Philippine leader for "supporting sovereignty and territorial integrity" of his country.

The Ukrainian president said he and Marcos “discussed further deepening of cooperation, in particular on international platforms” during their conversation which he called “the first … in the history of bilateral relations.”

In a statement around 16 hours after Zelensky's Twitter post, Marcos said he told Kyiv's leader that "we in the Philippines are watching with admiration, the bravery and the nationalism that has been displayed by the Ukrainians during this crisis."

"We join in his effort to reach a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in his country. Mr. President, we are with you in your search for peace," Marcos added.

Ukraine request

The call between Marcos and Zelensky has been a long time coming as the Ukrainian embassy in Malaysia said an official note to request a conversation between the two leaders was sent in June 2022. 

Multiple follow-ups and assistance were also asked through Manila’s Department of Foreign Affairs, but the embassy said they did not hear back from the DFA or the Office of the President.

After this was divulged to Filipino journalists by the Ukrainian embassy, Philippine diplomats said they “don’t really appreciate when these things are done.”

"Ukraine is a country we have a good relationship with but when matters like these are vented by representatives of another government to the press, it’s not something we appreciate,” Carlos Sorreta, undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations at the Department of Foreign Affairs said in January.

The Ukrainian embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Denys Mykhailiuk then apologized to his Philippine counterparts for the “misunderstanding.”

“I apologize for any misunderstanding which was caused by not very correct or maybe misunderstood speakings. Thank you for your understanding and I would like to assure you there is all respect from my side and I hope for a fuller cooperation,” he said on ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Headstart” in January.

Marcos went on to deny that he snubbed Ukraine’s request for a call with Zelensky, saying “we responded, but we didn't get it scheduled.”

He said he has “no problem talking to President Zelensky,” noting Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“Of course, we are on the side of peace… Any expressions of support that we might feel are needed, we are happy to provide,” Marcos said.

Since Russia began its invasion on February 24, 2022 over 7.967 million people have fled Ukraine and taken refuge in other European countries, according to a tally by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

The Philippines under both the Duterte and Marcos administrations has consistently opposed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In his strongest remarks yet on the conflict between Moscow and Kyiv, Marcos called the war “unacceptable” and urged the two countries to end the conflict diplomatically as he underscored its “far-reaching” economic effects. — Xave Gregorio with reports from Kaycee Valmonte and Gaea Katreena Cabico

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