The battle in Donbas, the Russian-speaking region of eastern Ukraine, is going to intensify in the coming weeks. Faced with this certainty, announced by kyiv and endorsed by the allies, Ukraine asks for more support from the West. “My agenda is very simple: weapons, weapons and weapons,” Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba repeatedly declared this Thursday at NATO, where he was invited to the meeting held by allied foreign ministers. The organization has agreed to that requirement. Its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has stated: “The allies are ready to strengthen and maintain support for Ukraine” and “recognize the urgency of providing more support.” The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has also emphasized this message: “We are looking day and night how we can include new systems [bélicos] and provide them [de ellos]; We listen to their needs.”
Neither the Norwegian nor the American have wanted to be more explicit, but the responses reveal the will of the military organization to intensify support for Ukraine at a time when the war is experiencing a certain stagnation after the Russian advance has stopped. Hardly any Western leaders give details of what kind of weapons are being shipped. “It is important to understand that the allies do not want to be specific. But they are providing a wide range of weapons, Soviet-era systems, but also modern equipment,” said the NATO secretary general when asked what kind of weapons the countries are willing to send.
Despite the vagueness of the announcement, the explanations give some clues that the material projected by the coalition for the next phase of the war will be more powerful. “I think the distinction between offensive and defensive is a bit strange, because we are talking about providing weapons to a country that defends itself, and self-defense is a right enshrined in the UN charter,” Stoltenberg slipped. Until recently, it was common to hear this type of distinction. And both in previous days and this Thursday, the NATO leader himself has indicated that the Ukrainians must be given “lighter weapons and heavier weapons”. In addition, in recent days details have been revealed that reveal a more powerful supply of material by the allies: the Czech Republic has sent tanks, according to The Wall Street Journaland this Thursday the British newspaper The Times published that the United Kingdom is considering sending armored vehicles.
Beyond these revelations, what is known is that the weapons sent to kyiv to date consist, above all, of anti-tank weapons and missiles, anti-aircraft defense systems, grenade launchers, sniper rifles… Also training in the use of these weapons, as Stoltenberg and Blinken have highlighted. The latter has underlined the importance of the aid provided to Ukraine and has considered it the second cause that has caused the Russian failure in the attempt to take the Ukrainian capital. The first, according to Blinken’s analysis, is the “courage” of the Ukrainian people.
At the entrance to the meeting with the allied ministers, Kuleba specified some of his requests. These included “aircraft, ship missiles, armored vehicles and heavy anti-aircraft weapons.” However, at the exit he has refused to be specific – “weapons need silence, I will not be specific” – and “cautiously optimistic” because “there is a growing understanding that support must increase.” Instead, he has indeed adopted a much more demanding volume with deadlines. The Ukrainians anticipate that in the coming weeks Russia will intensify its offensive in the east of the country, “the battle of Donbas”, as Kuleba has called it. Hence, he himself implores that the arrival of the weapons be “a matter of days, not weeks.”
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The urgency comes because “Russia did not withdraw from kyiv because it wanted to create a constructive atmosphere in the ceasefire negotiations,” Kuleba warned. “It was to have additional resources in Donbas. The battle for Donbas is still going on”, continued the minister, who recalled that this area was one of the most punished on the eastern front during World War II.
The urgency in the supply of weapons was the main message transmitted by the Ukrainian delegation at the end of the meeting at NATO headquarters, where, in addition to the 30 allied ministers, the top diplomatic officials from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, Finland and Georgia, as well as the High Representative for EU Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell. “The debate is not on the list of weapons, but on the deadlines. Today it is more important to know when”, Kuleba insisted. And on this point he has indeed reproached the allies, something that he has exemplified with a chapter that happened in the first days of the invasion: “Then I asked an allied minister to send us a type of weapon and he replied: ‘ Dmitro, we can’t send that because he needs two months of training’. If we had it now… This is the problem of the allies”, he lamented.
NATO seems to have gotten the message. “The allies recognize the urgency of providing more support,” Stoltenberg admitted on several occasions during his press conference. “We have a great sense of urgency,” said Blinken, who stressed that he speaks many times a week with Kuleba to determine what Ukraine needs and what can be sent to it.
To convince to send these weapons quickly, kyiv has also played the “Euro-Atlantic security” card. “This is indivisible. We are not defending ourselves alone. If they give us what we need, we will fight for our safety and also for yours. [la de todo Occidente]”, Kuleba used in an intervention in which he combined his demands with emotional arguments with ease, following the model of the president, Volodímir Zelenski. Along these lines, he stressed that if the material he claims arrives earlier, more deaths will be avoided, more tragic episodes such as the one experienced in Bucha, where civilians have been indiscriminately attacked and corpses have appeared with their hands tied to the back. “People are dying today”, he has alleged, with a mention also of Mariupol, where he has predicted a much greater drama than that of Bucha.