Ukraine asks NATO in person for "weapons, weapons and weapons" before an offensive in Donbas "like those of World War II"
He asks for heavy weapons "in days and not weeks" and says that "the deal is fair: we sacrifice our lives and the war is contained in Ukraine".
"Weapons, weapons, weapons." Ukraine has been asking, begging, for weeks for more help from its neighbors, partners and allies. It has done so in every possible way, in writing, in television messages, by video conferences to national parliaments and at EU and NATO meetings. And he has done it once again this Thursday in Brussels, in person, through the mouth of his Foreign Minister, Dmitro Kuleba.
"In recent weeks, the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian nation have shown that we know how to fight and we know how to win, but without the sustainable and sufficient supply of weapons that we have asked for, these victories will be accompanied by enormous sacrifices (...) Or we help now, and I'm talking about days and not weeks, or your help will come too late," Kuleba said from the Atlantic Alliance headquarters.
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NATO has held a regular meeting of its foreign ministers this week, but since the Russian invasion there is nothing regular on the agenda. The 30 have spoken of the strategic concept that will be approved in June in Madrid and that must define the Alliance's priorities and road map for the next decade, they have spoken of the consequences of the war for the entire planet and for collective security, of the risks for countries like Bosnia or Georgia, and how relations with Moscow may be from now on, given that contacts between both parties are frozen and the Founding Act that has guided relations between blocs since the 1990s is dead. But today's attention was on kyiv's request and possible responses.
Volodimir Zelensky's government wants planes, tanks, armored vehicles, defense systems, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, rocket launchers, small arms, supplies. Everything. He desperately needs it now and he will need it even more soon, because what everyone in the Donbas is waiting for is an operation the likes of which has not been seen for 70 years. "We are not seeing a Russian withdrawal. We have no indication that Putin is thinking about that. Troops are regrouping and relocating to the East, and we expect a major offensive," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg admitted."The battle for Donbas is underway. It has not reached its maximum escalation, but every day there is heavy fire and there will be more, unfortunately. The battle for Donbas will remind you, and I am sorry to say it but it is true, to the Second World War. With maneuvers and operations with thousands of tanks, armored cars, planes, artillery. It will not be a local operation. Russia has its plans, we have ours, and the result will be decided on the battlefield ", Minister Kuleba warned at the end of the meeting.
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His message has been clear. Ukraine is very grateful and knows that without the help provided so far it would not have been able to resist, but it is not enough. And it is not just a question of solidarity, of generosity, but of self-defense for Europeans. "I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair: they give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives and the war is contained in Ukraine", without the risk that NATO could be pushed to activate article 5 if any of its members it is attacked.
One of the elements of tension between kyiv and mainland capitals is what kind of weapons they want or can supply. Some governments are setting limits, explaining that they provide "defensive weapons but not offensive ones", something that for Kuleba and for the secretary general does not make much sense. "There can be no difference between defensive and offensive weapons because they are all used by the Ukrainian army against a foreign aggressor and are defensive by definition (...) So this distinction does not make any sense. Those countries that say they are going to provide Ukrainedefensive Weapons,but who are not in a position to give him offensive weapons, they are hypocrites. It is simply an unfair and unjustified approach," snapped the Ukrainian. "The allies do not want to be specific about what weapons to provide so as not to give indications to Russia. We are providing all kinds of weapons and equipment, but that distinction between offensive and defensive is rare, because they are all used for self-defense when the country has been attacked, and for that reason everything is defensive," agreed General Secretary Stoltenberg.
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NATO itself is not sending weapons to Ukraine. It provides humanitarian aid, medical supplies, protective suits against chemical attacks, but the weapons come from its members individually (and in coordination). And not all of them, because some, like Hungary, refuse to allow the material to pass through their territory so as not to anger the Kremlin.
Until now a clear limit has been maintained, weapons yes, ammunition too, even missiles, but not planes or tanks . The French president, Emmanuel Macron, one of the most active and in permanent contact with Zelensky, set the limit there a few weeks ago. But now the debate is open. Poland attempted a highly controversial move with vintage fighter planes, but it did not materialize. Neighbors like the Czech Republic are ready to send armored cars. But in the Alliance there are doubts about how to maintain the balance, how to help an attacked country so that it "prevails", but without "provoking an escalation". And it's not easy. The door to weapons and heavier material is or seems to be open, but with many doubts.
The massacres that are being known in the liberated cities, and especially Bucha, are bending some reluctant wills to go further, but for kyiv it is a too slow process. "Frankly, I hope we don't repeat the situation where increasing sanctions pressure requires that atrocities like Bucha 's come to light and impress and shock other partners to the point where they sit up and say they're going to introduce new sanctions," Kuleba urged Thursday.