Ukraine’s Zelensky, on His First Wartime Visit to NATO Headquarters, Presses Allies for More Equipment

In the wake of Biden’s speech on Israel, Zelensky also expresses support for the Jewish state in the war launched against it by Hamas.

AP/Virginia Mayo
President Zelensky, left, speaks with NATO's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, at Brussels, October 11, 2023. AP/Virginia Mayo

NATO allies are being urged to “step up” their support for Ukraine by President Zelensky in a surprise visit today to NATO headquarters to request more Western equipment and to express its support of Israel. 

Mr. Zelensky attended a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, organized by the American secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, on Wednesday. It is Mr. Zelensky’s first visit to NATO headquarters since the full-scale invasion. In a speech to the press, he said that the goal of the trip is to discuss “priorities for Ukraine” and the challenges Kyiv will face come winter.

“We need some support from the leaders. That’s why I’m here today,” Mr. Zelensky said. He also emphasized the importance of receiving long-distance weapons. “The problem: How to get it?” Mr. Zelensky said.

Mr. Zelensky also asked the allies to support Israel following the attack by the militant group Hamas on Saturday. On Tuesday, he accused Russia of supporting the terrorist group. “We are certain that Russia is supporting, in one way or another, Hamas operations,” Mr. Zelensky said in an interview with France 2.

During the interview, Mr. Zelensky also said he fears the war in Israel would divert attention from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Last year, Mr. Zelensky criticized Jerusalem for refusing to send weapons to Ukraine. 

There has been hesitation among NATO countries and America to give Ukraine long-range arms. Officials fear they could be used to target inland Russian territory, which could escalate the war. Yet, Mr. Zelensky has said they are necessary to protect “concrete geographic points” in Ukraine, including transit roads for grain exports.

During the press conference, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Kyiv should expect announcements from NATO allies as they need to “sustain” and “step up” their support. It will help Ukraine “to produce, to trade, to function as a normal country” and give them the opportunity to finance the ammunition for themselves. 

“We need today to mobilize more support to Ukraine. And as President Zelenskyy just said, this is about air defense. It’s about artillery. It’s about ammunition,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Mr. Zelensky hopes member states will “take further positive decisions on the supply of weapons and military equipment to our country,” a statement sent by Mr. Zelensky’s office says.

In July this year, France announced it would increase arms deliveries to Ukraine, including missiles with a 155 mile range. Russian officials condemned the decision.

Mr. Zelensky is also expected to meet Prime Minister De Croo of Belgium on Wednesday. According to POLITICO, he will discuss ways in which frozen Russian assets could be used to rebuild Ukraine after the war. It is estimated that almost two-thirds of these assets are located in Belgium.

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom announced it would send a new package of military support to Ukraine to help the soldiers clear minefields, maintain the vehicles, and defend their infrastructure. 

“This winter, Russia will seek to undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and divide the international community, but in both cases, Putin underestimates the strength and resilience of his opposition,” the chief of Britain’s defense staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, said in a statement.

“If we stick together, and stay the course,” Admiral Radakin said, “then Russia will continue to lose, Ukraine will prevail, and the rules that matter to global security will endure.”

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