Ukraine’s Zelenskiy, at Nato HQ, seeks arms to get through winter

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy, at Nato HQ, seeks arms to get through winter
Ukraine’s Zelenskiy, at Nato HQ, seeks arms to get through winter

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Secretary General of Nato Jens Stoltenberg walk on the day of a Nato Defence Ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 11, 2023. — Reuters pic

BRUSSELS, Oct 11 — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the Nato military alliance headquarters in Brussels today in search of more air defence systems, artillery and ammunition to help his country through another wartime winter.

On his first visit to Nato HQ since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February last year, Zelenskiy said the coming cold months would be one of Ukraine’s biggest challenges.

“We are preparing, we are ready. Now we need some support from the leaders,” he told reporters before meeting defence ministers from Nato and some 20 other countries that give military aid to Ukraine in a US-led forum known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

Standing alongside Zelenskiy, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “preparing once again to use winter as a weapon of war” by attacking energy infrastructure in Ukraine.

“We need to prevent that, with more advanced and increased capabilities for air defence, we can make a big difference,” Stoltenberg said.

On Wednesday, a US defence official said a new US$200 million aid package for Ukraine will be announced, to include air defence missiles and munitions.

Washington has provided US$44 billion to supply Kyiv with dozens of tanks, thousands of rockets and millions of rounds of ammunition since Russia’s invasion but support is falling among Americans of both major political parties.

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US reassurance

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive over the summer to try and retake territory in the south and east, but has so far failed to make major breakthroughs past Russia’s network of fortifications and minefields.

Diplomats expect US officials such as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Air Force General Charles Q. Brown, the new top US military officer, to try to reassure Nato allies and Ukraine that Washington will continue to provide support to Kyiv despite aid being held up by infighting in the US Congress.

Zelenskiy was also due to meet Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. He said they would discuss proposals to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine.

Nato defence ministers were to sit down with their Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov in the Nato-Ukraine Council, established at the alliance’s Vilnius summit in July.

During a two-day meeting, ministers will also discuss issues of concern beyond the war in Ukraine, including damage to a subsea gas pipeline and a telecommunications cable linking Nato members Finland and Estonia reported on Tuesday.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is to join the ministers tomorrow via videoconference to discuss Hamas’ weekend assault and its consequences. — Reuters

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