Why in the World Is Ukraine’s Zelensky Co-Hosting a Summit in — of All Places — Albania? 

With Ukraine’s military struggling and in the third year of the war, Kyiv looks to shore up support wherever it can be found.

AP/Armando Babani
Albania's prime minister, Edi Rama, welcomes President Zelensky before their meeting at Tirana, Albania, February 28, 2024. AP/Armando Babani

Tirana, Albania, is not known for much besides being the capital of a poor country with a dark past on the Adriatic coast. That makes it a curious choice of a place for Ukraine to seek more support, but it is where President Zelensky will be on Wednesday to do just that. 

Mr. Zelensky will co-host a summit with Albania’s government that is meant to encourage further support for Kyiv by southeastern European countries. This comes as signs of fatigue grow two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion.

It was not immediately clear what the summit is expected to achieve beyond its stated goals of “peace, security, cooperation.” No agenda was available ahead of the parley. Officials with NATO member Albania gave no details.

On Wednesday morning Albania’s foreign minister, Igli Hasani, said his country was “standing in solidarity with Ukraine in its heroic fight against Russia’s aggression.” Mr. Zelensky will attend in person on the latest stop in an international tour that saw him in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to push for a peace plan and the return of prisoners of war from Russia.

Securing further support is key to Ukraine’s leader while his country faces battlefield challenges. Mr. Zelensky on Sunday announced that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action since Russia’s invasion — the first time that Kyiv had confirmed the number of its losses.

On Tuesday, the head of the British armed forces, Admiral Sir Antony David Radakin, said at a conference at London that Ukraine could be expected to remain short of ammunition and on the back foot in its war with Russia for several months. Mr. Radkin stated that the Ukrainian army “was struggling in terms of its ammunition and its stockpiles” and that the traffic jam in Congress over supplying more assistance has not helped. 

Ukraine has urged Western leaders to increase the joint production of weapons and ammunition, improve Ukrainian air defenses, and put new pressure on Russia via expanded sanctions. The head of NATO has said the American-led military alliance has no plans to send troops to Ukraine, and Germany, Poland, and other countries this week have said the same.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009 and a candidate for EU membership, has voiced its full support for Kyiv against Russia’s invasion. It has provided military assistance in the form of ammunition — though to what extent is not clear — and training of Ukrainian troops. It was among the first countries offering shelter to Ukrainian refugees. It has joined international sanctions against Russian officials and institutions. 

All that is in contrast to nearby Kremlin ally Serbia, the only European country that has refused to align with EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion. Belgrade continues signing cooperation agreements with Moscow.

As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the last two years, Albania, which Secretary Blinken visited earlier this month, joined Washington in initiating resolutions against Russia’s invasion.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use