KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met Thursday with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and prominent European figures who are forming a working group to address ecological damage from the 16-month-old Russian invasion.
The meeting in the Ukrainian capital came as fighting continued around the country.
The governor of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, said two people were killed in the region’s capital in a Russian strike that hit residences, a medical facility and a school where residents were lined up to receive humanitarian aid. Another person was killed in a morning strike on the village of Bilzoerka, the regional prosecutor’s office said.
The presidential office said Thursday morning that at least eight civilians died in Russian attacks during the previous 24 hours.
Zelenskyy also met former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence who visited Kyiv. Pence, an advocate of U.S. support to Ukraine, is running for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.
“We appreciate that both major U.S. parties, the Republican and Democratic, remain united in their support for Ukraine. And, of course, we feel the strong support of the people of the United States,” Zelenskyy told Pence, according to the presidential website.
The working group on the environment includes Thunberg, former Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Margot Wallström, European Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala, and former Irish President Mary Robinson.
Zelenskyy said forming the group is “a very important signal of supporting Ukraine. It’s really important, we need your professional help.”
Thunberg said Russian forces “are deliberately targeting the environment and people’s livelihoods and homes. And therefore also destroying lives. Because this is after all a matter of people.”
The objectives of the working group are evaluating the environmental damage resulting from the war, formulating mechanisms to hold Russia accountable, and undertaking efforts to restore Ukraine’s ecology.
In Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill met with Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the Vatican envoy for seeking peace between Russia and Ukraine.
Kirill, a supporter of the war, said “It is very important that the Christian communities of East and West take part in the process of reconciliation,” according to video circulated by the Russian church.