Volodymyr Zelensky 'put in danger' after details of secret visit to Brussels are leaked
The European Parliament has been accused of putting Volodymyr Zelensky in danger after details of a planned appearance at a summit in Brussels this week were leaked from the institution.
In what would be his second visit outside Ukraine since Russia invaded nearly 12 months ago, Mr Zelensky was expected to deliver a speech to European Union leaders as well as make a special address to the Parliament on Thursday.
But the trip was thrown into doubt on Tuesday after loose-lipped parliamentary officials let slip of the secretive plans to host the Ukrainian president.
Earlier this week, rumours of the visit soon circulated across European publications, starting with Italy's La Stampa.
The leak is reported to have emerged from the cabinet of Roberta Metsola, the European Parliament’s president, as well as officials close to the institution’s de facto leader.
The European People’s Party, the centre-Right political grouping, of which Ms Metsola is a member, initially confirmed rumours in a social media post that was later deleted.
“We look forward to welcoming you in Brussels, Mr President,” the Twitter post read.
Ms Metsola later asked her parliamentary group to remove the post, it was reported.
MEPs also claimed Alessandro Chiocchetti, Ms Metsola’s former chief of staff and now the Parliament’s secretary-general, called a meeting of parliamentary groups to brief them on the details of the visit.
Charles Michel, the European Council's president, was reported to have made a direct complaint to Ms Metsola for the leaks, which he argued could have serious consequences for any planned visits by Mr Zelensky to Brussels.
A spokesman for Mr Michel said he had "invited President Zelensky to participate in person in a future summit of the European Council".
He added: "For security reasons, no further information will be provided."
The row prompted accusations that the Parliament had put its own vanity over the security of the Ukrainian president.
An EU diplomat said: "It's a no brainer to say the Parliament has potentially endangered Zelensky's safety by leaking apparent plans for a visit."
Last week, Mr Zelensky told reporters in Kyiv: "Frankly speaking, there are big risks if I go somewhere. This is true."