President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was the first of up to 47 leaders to arrive at the European Political Community summit on Thursday in Moldova.

Zelensky was welcomed to Mimi Castle in Bulboaca by Moldova’s President Maia Sandu for a meeting designed as a show of European diplomatic force against Russia.

The European Political Community (EPC), which groups 27 EU members with 40 of their allies and excludes Russia and Belarus, chose Ukraine’s tiny neighbour Moldova for its second summit.

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Less than an hour’s drive from a Russian-backed breakaway Moldovan region and not much further from war-torn Ukraine, they will try to send a message to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.

First and foremost, holding the summit outside Chisinau shows solidarity with Moldova in the face of Russian destabilisation operations and support for its EU membership bid.

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It is also an opportunity for European states -- whether EU members, recent leaver Britain or candidates for future membership like Ukraine -- to work together on regional crises.

“We must also think of a wider Europe,” France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who first promoted the EPC, told reporters in Bratislava on the eve of the summit.

“We must think of our Europe not simply from a security point of view within the framework of NATO and not simply within the framework of the European Union.”

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