Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to meet with leaders from southeast Europe in Albania on Wednesday, seeking to keep support and weapons flowing to Kyiv as Russia makes gains on the battlefield two years after invading its neighbour.

Zelensky has been crisscrossing the globe in recent weeks to rally support for his beleaguered country, as Ukraine's armed forces face a critical shortage of ammunition and struggle to hold back Russia's military advances on the ground. 

Before arriving in Tirana, Zelensky stopped in Saudi Arabia, where he sought to promote his peace plan and discuss potential prisoner of war exchanges.

The visit to Tirana will start out as a bilateral meeting with Albania – but then include fellow aspiring EU members in the Balkans, online participation from Turkey, as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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Following his bilateral meeting with Albania on Wednesday, Zelensky will be co-chairing the summit of Ukraine and Southeast Europe countries along with Albania's Prime Minister, Edi Rama, Euronews reported.

The head of Albania's government spoke on the importance of Zelensky's visit, as well as the summit at the opening of the exhibition “Ukraine, a war crime.”

“This exhibition comes on the eve of President Zelensky’s visit to Tirana, a visit which, on the one hand, is a bilateral visit. But, on the other hand, it is also a visit that will culminate in a summit of Southeast European countries for Ukraine, where we will have a considerable number of leaders from this area of Europe as guests, and where President Zelensky is of course with us as co-organizers for this activity which, in today’s context, has, in my opinion, special importance,” Rama said.

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Starmer is expected to tell Zelensky that Britain will do more in the coming months to dent Russia’s “war machine”, including agreeing a new defense export support treaty.

For now, there are no details on specifically which other leaders will join the summit in person, though Rama said Turkey would join online. 

“I am grateful that the president has agreed to address the summit through a direct link from his office, since it is impossible for him to be physically present,” Rama said during a recent visit to Turkey.

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Albania's PM announced the summit of Ukraine and the Western Balkans on Jan. 22, during his visit to Skopje, where he attended a conference on the plan for economic growth of the Western Balkans with the help of the European Union.

Rama also said that Albania stands with Ukraine, which on Feb. 24 passed the second bloody anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Albania, as a NATO member country, has imposed sanctions against Russia due to its occupation of Ukraine as well as offered assistance to Kyiv throughout the two years of Russia’s full-scale war.

The Western Balkans countries are currently at various stages of integration into the EU. For example, Albania and North Macedonia, as well as Ukraine, are at or entering membership talks.

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