Ukraine presses NATO for more aid to prevent “atrocities like Bucha”

BRUSSELS – Ukraine’s top diplomat urged NATO on Thursday to speed up the supply of weapons to Ukrainian troops – weapons it said were urgently needed before Russia could launch an offensive in the eastern part of the country.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for swift action at a meeting of high-ranking officials across the Western Alliance, presenting what he said was a three-pronged agenda: “weapons, weapons, weapons.

“The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more lives will be saved,” Kuleba said before the meeting. “The more cities and villages will not be destroyed. And it will no longer be Buchas, “he said, referring to the Kyiv suburb, where the evacuation of Russian troops revealed dire human suffering, including the bodies of civilians who appeared to have been tortured and killed.

“I challenge all allies to put aside their hesitation, their reluctance to provide Ukraine with everything it needs,” Kuleba continued. “Because as strange as it may sound, today weapons serve peace.

He said allies loyal to Kyiv – who are fighting to gain the upper hand against larger, better-armed Russian forces – need aircraft, armored vehicles, anti-ship missiles and more air defense systems. NATO nations have been supplying a growing number of weapons since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, including anti-aircraft missiles, tanks and kamikaze drones. But Alliance members, worried that Russia could retaliate in NATO territory, have stopped sending fighter jets or imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters after the meetings, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Allies were determined to do more, now and in the medium and long term.

Kuleba told reporters after the meetings that he was sure that more types of weapons would be provided in the end, but said he was worried that they would not be sent fast enough. He said he had given NATO ministers a specific request with a specific timeline.

As Russia faced fierce opposition from Ukrainian forces, Russia has withdrawn troops from areas around Kyiv and turned them towards southern and eastern Ukraine. Kuleba said Russia’s forthcoming offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region could be likened to World War II: large-scale military operations involving thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and aircraft.

“This is why it is so important for the Allies not to tell us – to say the least – that they are still thinking that they have to go through all the procedures that remain to be resolved before making any decisions. “Either you help us now – and I’m talking about days not weeks – or your help comes too late. And many will die, many civilians will lose their homes, many villages will be destroyed precisely because that help came too late. “

Kuleba’s real call in Brussels echoed the approach taken by other Ukrainian leaders, in particular President Volodymyr Zelensky, as he sought to rally the world against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack: direct and loud criticism of anything less than full support for Ukraine and to bear identification of failing nations. to meet that goal.

Earlier in the day, Kuleba cited Germany as an example of nations that have refrained from providing as much military support as they could. “While Berlin has time, Kyiv does not,” he said.

“I think the agreement offered by Ukraine is fair. You give us weapons; “We are sacrificing our lives and the war is included in Ukraine,” he said. “That’s it.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said NATO allies had agreed to increase support by providing “new and heavier equipment” to Ukraine. “We have agreed to help Ukraine move from Soviet-era equipment to NATO standard equipment on a bilateral basis,” she said, without giving details of what could be transferred or when.

Ben Hodges, the former commander of the US military in Europe, said allied support was important as the war entered a “decisive new phase”.

Ukrainian forces are running ammunition, he said. While allies are becoming more willing to send weapons, what has been sent so far is “not enough,” he said.

“The government and NATO need to talk about victory, about helping Ukraine win, not just about avoiding losing or preventing Russia from winning,” he said.

Victory, according to Hodges, would mean a return to the first of February. 24 lines and make Russia unable to resume its offensive.

“We need to see that it is urgent,” he said, “something like the Berlin Airport.

Disputes among Western nations over how far to go with military aid to Ukraine are also visible in the economic arena, with some countries demanding more drastic measures to deprive Russia of energy revenues, while others are pushing for steps that could increase pressure on Europe. consumers.

The European Union this week banned the import of coal from Russia, but it has not yet stopped buying Russian oil and natural gas, which continue to provide Moscow with a valuable flow of money. Ukraine has condemned this position and called for, in addition to a number of international sanctions already in place, the closure of all Russian banks from the international financial system.

Biden’s board announced on Wednesday new measures targeting Putin’s adult children and other Russian banks.

Pictures of mass graves and unaltered bodies lying on the streets of Bucha in Ukraine have provoked a great deal of international outrage. Even before the atrocities were uncovered, the Biden government announced last month a formal assessment that Russian troops were committing war crimes in Ukraine.

“I hope we will never face situations again where we need to increase the pressure on sanctions, we need to expose atrocities like Bucha and arouse the admiration and outrage of other partners to the point where they sit down and say, ‘ All right, all right, “we will introduce new sanctions,” Kuleba said.

As further signs of global anger over Russia’s actions, the meeting was attended by ministers from outside NATO, Japan, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Georgia, Finland and Sweden. Following talks on the sidelines of the NATO summit, seven ministers called for Russia to be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council. The UN General Assembly subsequently voted in favor of the postponement.

Kuleba also held individual talks at NATO headquarters with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Commenting on Wednesday on the Foreign Ministry’s Telegram channel as part of an attempt to reach a Russian audience, Blinken said that weapons proposed by Western nations had contributed to hindering Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv.

The Biden administration has announced arms shipments to Ukraine, including, most recently, $ 100 million worth of Javelin tank missiles.

“What we focus on is ensuring that we bring to Ukraine the systems that they can use now and use effectively,” Blinken said. “At the same time, we are looking at other systems – some of them bigger, more complex – that could be useful and important in the future, but where, for example, Ukrainians need to be trained, because some of these systems, you can not just turn them around. and have them used immediately. “

In an interview with reporters, Kuleba said that nations that mentioned the need for long-term training had slowed down the supply of weapons unnecessarily, because if they had signed such a system at the beginning of the war, they would already be in Ukrainian hands.

Asked about a video that appeared to show Ukrainian soldiers killing a Russian soldier, Kuleba said Ukrainian forces respected the war and that the incident would be investigated.

He seemed emotional when he described how the Ukrainians reacted to the violence that took place during the war.

“You do not understand what it is like to see pictures of Bucha, to talk to people who escaped, knowing that the person you know was raped four days in a row. “You do not understand how it feels for Russian soldiers to rape children,” he said. “This is not an excuse for those who break the rules of war on either side of the front line. But there are some things you simply can not understand; Sorry.”

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