European powers on Friday pledged to boost support for Ukraine as it battles to repel Russia, with France’s president accentuating at a major security conference that the time wasn’t ripe for talks with Moscow.
Days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia consigning its forces into Ukraine, Moscow chalked up a small gain in its grinding strike.
The head of Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed the captive of a village near Bakhmut — the eastern city that’s the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle of Moscow’s strike.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that lives were at stake as he opened the Munich Security Conference with an fervent plea for allies to speed up support.
We need speed — speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery speed of decisions to limit Russian capability, ”he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron joined in the call for allies to enhance our support for Ukraine to support its forces in launching acounter-offensive.
It isn’t the time for dialogue because we’ve a Russia which has chosen war, which has chosen to intensify the war, and which has chosen to go as far as committing war crimes and to attacking mercenary infrastructure, ”he said.
While claiming he didn’t want to see a drawn-out war, he said France was ready for a “prolonged conflict”.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz meanwhile claimed that German support was “designed to last”, and urged allies to speed up deliveries of heavy tanks promised to Ukraine.
*Scholz Tank Turnaround*
The conference in Munich is also being attended by US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and NATO principal Jens Stoltenberg.
Russian delegates including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was a regular attendee in the past, weren’t invited.
Scholz’s pleas for allies to step up deliveries of tanks emphasized a recent reversal of his political fortunes.
Up until last month, he was facing allegations of foot-dragging over his unwillingness to permit delivery of the German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, despite increasing pressure from Kyiv.
Berlin finally agreed to allow the armaments, widely used in Europe, to be transferred to Ukraine, and pledged to deliver some of the most modern ones from its military stocks.
Under German law, Berlin must give consent for other countries that use the tanks tore-export them.
Howbeit, it’s now struggling to persuade allies to follow suit.
Those who can ship similar battle tanks should really do so now, ” Scholz told the conference, where he said he’d be “ strenuously campaigning ”to get allies to move on the issue.
Need Ukraine in EU
Scholz and Macron afterward held talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda on the sidelines, with the German leader hailing the “good cooperation” between the trio in providing support for Ukraine.
In his address, Zelensky reiterated his intentions for Ukraine to join the European Union and NATO. Ukraine was recently granted aspirant status for the EU, although full class is a long way off.
Speaking at a panel discussion, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki backed Ukraine’s drive to join the bloc and said the “normal route to accession ”should be abandoned given Kyiv’s “ extraordinary ”position.
We need Ukraine as part of the European Union and as part of NATO ultimately as well. From our point of view the quickly the better, ” he said.
US-China ties are also in focus at the gathering, with pressures sky-high after Washington shot down an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon over US habitant.
With high-status US and Chinese delegations in town, there has been speculation of talks on the sidelines to ease pressures.
The huge white balloon from China was spotted over a series of secret nuclear weapons sites earlier this month, before being shot down just off the eastern US coast.
The incident urged a diplomatic rift, with Blinken cancelling a rare China visit. Beijing, howbeit, says the balloon was just a slapdash weather investigation craft.