In his visits to several European allies in the last three days, Zelensky has spoken about tanks, drones, missiles and the desired fighters for his anticipated counter-offensive, but also about what protection his country can have for the future against Russia.
Dragon’s teeth, trenches and anti-tank ditches: satellite images of Russian fortifications in Ukraine
NATO once again cooled Ukraine’s chances of advancing in its membership request while Zelensky negotiates with the allies some kind of compromise so that his country will not be invaded by Russia again if a peace agreement is reached.
Following a meeting with Zelensky on Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said they had discussed the “security arrangements” Ukraine’s allies must put in place “in the long term to ensure that it can defend itself and provide an effective deterrent against a future Russian aggression”.
A few hours before meeting Sunak in England, Zelensky asked NATO allies for “a positive political decision” on Ukraine’s request to join the alliance, which has been stalled for 15 years. In the midst of a European tour, Zelensky said it would be a “timely sign” if NATO member governments take advantage of their July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, to make a statement on Ukraine’s future in the alliance.
Zelensky made this request in a speech via video conference at a democracy forum in Copenhagen in politicians and activists from around the world just before meeting Sunak.
Ukraine has been in talks with NATO for decades, but in 2008, at the Bucharest summit in Romania, its membership bid was put on hold like Georgia’s by opposition, notably from France and Germany. The president of the United States at the time, George W. Bush, also accepted pressure from Vladimir Putin, then prime minister, not to offer the opening of formal negotiations to these two countries that sought the protection of the allies. The Barack Obama Administration he did not want to reopen the debate after the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014.
But the allies do not give signals beyond a generic commitment on the “open doors” of the UN. The Secretary General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, answered Zelensky this Monday at the same Copenhagen summit that the priority is for Ukraine to “prevail” and “President Putin does not win this war.” “Only if Ukraine prevails as an independent sovereign nation in Europe, does it make sense to talk about when and how Ukraine can become a member of the alliance,” Stoltenberg said, speaking with the former Danish prime minister and his NATO predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Meeting with Sunak
Zelensky visited Sunak on Monday at another stop on his European tour to try to get the rulers to speed up the delivery of arms to Ukraine for the announced counteroffensive against Russian troops on its territory. Ukraine has secured more commitments of tanks, drones and missiles to intercept attacks, but weapons promised months ago are coming slowly. And there remains no agreement from any ally to receive fighters that he believes would help protect “the skies” from Russian attacks.
Zelensky met Sunak at Checkers, the official country house in northwest London, which is reserved for special occasions. Sunak stressed that Zelenski is the first leader he has received in Checkers since he was in charge of the country, and also insisted on his symbolism. “Winston Churchill gave many of his famous World War II speeches from this room,” he said in the room where he received Zelensky. “In the same way today, your leadership, the courage and the strength of your country are an inspiration to all of us.”
He also tweeted a photo of a hug between the two leaders.
Zelensky dined in Paris last night with French President Emmanuel Macron after meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin and visiting Rome on Saturday to meet Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni. he also received the Charlemagne Prize in Aachenthe most precious award of Europeanism and which the German city has given every year since 1950.
The promises of more weapons have followed one another in these three days, although the new material will take time to reach Ukraine.
The United Kingdom confirmed that it will send “hundreds” of defense missiles and “hundreds” of attack drones with a range of 200 kilometers to Ukraine. But that will happen “in the coming months” as Ukraine “prepares to intensify its resistance” to the Russian invasion, according to information released by the prime minister’s office on Monday.
At the meeting, they talked about hunting, but Zelenski commented that there is still a “little more work” on the matter and Sunak said that any agreement would have to go through a “coalition” of countries and that it is not a “so direct” decision because first it is necessary to train the pilots. A Sunak spokesman later said the UK has no plans to send fighter jets to Ukraine at the moment.
Britain says it has trained 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers on its soil in the past year and is developing a new program to train pilots.
Last year it donated military equipment worth 2.3 billion pounds (about 2.6 billion euros) to Ukraine, making it the second country to give the most aid after the United States. But Germany is likely to take its place this year after announcing a military aid package worth 2.7 billion euros, including anti-missile systems, more than 200 surveillance drones, 30 Leopard tanks and 100 other combat vehicles.
After dinner at the Elysee this Sunday, France also announced that it will train soldiers and “dozens of armed vehicles”, although it did not specify the number or the calendar.