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  • Writer's pictureAnton Kuchuhidze

International Press Review Dated 19-23 December 2022

This week President Zelenskiy made the headlines in international press. The first news to hit the headlines was his visit to Bakhmut, a city that has become well-known globally. Nearly all influential international media had written about the significance of Bakhmut and that at present it was the most burning of battlefields. This was the reason why there was some astonishment in the news pieces of quite a large number of the media regarding the visit of the most active battlefield by President Zelenskiy to support the troops amid the obvious extreme danger. Many of them outlined the actions of President Zelenskyi in Bakhmut, his communication with the troops, the importance of such communication, etc.

The other major reason why President Zelenskiy made the headlines in international press was his visit to the United States of America and discussions with President Biden. No other Ukrainian President has had such great influence and respect in the world since Ukraine's independence. Before the visit, when it had already been officially confirmed, numerous insights appeared on the increase of military assistance to Ukraine and on the decisions to be made by the Congress concerning further expansion of sanctions and increased financing of military and economic support. Considering the results, the visit was indisputably successful. The President of Ukraine achieved many goals, the key one among them being military technology and economic support.

The international media also wrote about new programs of support for Ukraine. For example, according to Reuters, World Bank approved $610 million in financing for Ukraine. Such financing will mainly be directed toward improvement of the health care and social spheres.

One of the major topics in the British media throughout the week was the support of the position of the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the boosting by Britain of its aid to Ukraine, both military and financial. It also was clear that not only was Britain willing to increase military support of Ukraine alone, it also urged all its European allies to do the same. Great Britain is expressly promoting the idea and realization that the security of Ukraine today is the security of the entire Euro-Atlantic area. The British media also contained calls of experts to supply ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. And when Western analysts start reiterating Ukraine's ideas, relatively speaking, it means that sooner or later the relevant decision will probably be made. What is noteworthy is that there is no negativity in the comments of authoritative analysts and the media regarding further reinforcement of Ukraine. In its support of Ukraine, the media space was an altogether agreeable space.

The World Bank on Tuesday said it had approved an additional financing package totaling $610 million to address urgent relief and recovery needs in Ukraine as the war with Russia continues.

The package includes an additional $500 million loan from the World Bank's International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) that is supported by a guarantee from Britain, and a new project to restore and improve access to health care and address war-related needs for health services, the global lender said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy paid a surprise visit on Tuesday to the frontline city of Bakhmut, where he hailed the "superhuman" troops waging a battle that has come to symbolise the grinding brutality of the war in Ukraine.

He urged them to maintain morale as the battle for Bakhmut enters its fifth month, increasingly straining the Ukrainian and Russian armies.

"Motivate those who are near you, those who might be weaker," Zelenskiy said, with the boom of artillery audible in the distance.

He said: “In the United Kingdom we have committed to maintaining or increasing our military support to Ukraine next year. We need to make sure that we get that right. And the priorities are air defence, armoured vehicles and artillery.

“I also am here meeting some of our troops that are involved in sending equipment and training the Ukrainians. So it’s great to see the difference that all countries are making. We must continue to support Ukraine strongly.

“Our collective resolve is clear, and we have and will continue to support Ukraine. And that is first and foremost because their security is our security.

“Putin is realising that he cannot win on the battlefield and that means he’s now escalating the conflict in a way that is bringing about quite frankly appalling consequences for the people of Ukraine.”

Putin plans to escalate the war, not by the nuclear means that could bring catastrophe on him, but by asymmetric tactics — destroying essential utilities — to which Ukraine cannot respond and the West dare not. It would be a further mistake, therefore, to limit the response to these attacks to defensive measures. Generators and anti-air defences are being sent to Ukraine by many countries, but that is just defending a goal line against indefinite penalty shots. Putin has to be shown that there will be a response to this that threatens his own half of the pitch.

It is time for western countries to supply ATACMS missiles, with a range of 190 miles, enabling Ukraine to hit Russian bases throughout occupied territory, including in Crimea. Such long-range missiles are possessed by several countries, not just the United States, and can be fired from rocket launchers already in use. These could make a material difference to the course of the war, disrupting any planned new Russian offensive and demonstrating that there is a cost to Putin’s escalation.

This should be part of a wider effort to upgrade Ukrainian capabilities with aircraft and the tanks they have long been promised. And vitally, Ukraine needs a huge supply of more basic items, including ammunition, infantry fighting vehicles and howitzers to give them their own staying power against Russian industrial production.

The United States said on Wednesday, December 21, it will provide Ukraine with the advanced Patriot air defense system to help counter Moscow's relentless aerial attacks.

The system is part of $1.85 billion in assistance unveiled in parallel with a visit to Washington by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his first trip outside the country since Russia invaded in February.

The announcement is a significant victory for Kyiv, which had repeatedly pushed Washington for the Patriot system, and a strong sign of US support for Ukraine that will help boost the country's defenses.

Rishi Sunak has urged European allies to maintain or boost military support for Ukraine over the coming year.

The PM kicked off a trip to the Baltic region by announcing the UK would send hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine.

He also said there could not be peace talks until Russia withdrew its troops.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s White House visit Wednesday will symbolically bolster America’s role as the arsenal of democracy in the bitter war for Ukraine’s survival and send a stunning public rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A White House reception for Zelensky, who sources said was traveling to the US on Tuesday night, will above all be an unmistakable sign of US and Western support for Ukraine’s battle against Putin, who says the country has no right to exist. The war exemplifies what Biden has framed as a global struggle between democracy and totalitarianism, which he has put at the center of his foreign policy.

Zelensky compared his nation’s resistance against Russia with Britain’s lonely defiance of the Nazis in the days before the US entered World War II during a video address to the UK Parliament earlier this year, and his arrival in the US capital will sharpen the parallels to the earlier meeting of Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt.

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