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  • Writer's pictureAnton Kuchuhidze

International Press Review dated April 22 - May 3, 2024

In recent weeks, the main topic in the media has been the adoption of the US aid package for Ukraine and the issue of European defense. In this context, French President Emmanuel Macron noted that Europeans are doing very little to protect Europe. Against the backdrop of the risk posed by russia's aggressive war in Ukraine, European leaders underestimate the russian threat and overestimate American security guarantees. Le Monde writes about this.


In an article by The Wall Street Journal, the authors argue that Europe needs to step up its defense efforts and rely less on the United States for security. If Ukraine fails, the West will face a much more dangerous russia and an extremely unstable security environment. With the latest tranche of funding from Washington, Ukraine should be able to hold out until the end of 2024. And while Europeans have done a lot, they should not rest on their laurels and should do even more for Ukraine militarily. The decline in European defense spending over the past quarter century has led to a shrinking military-industrial sector, reduced production lines, loss of skilled labor, and dependence on foreign sales.


Europe must play a more powerful role in strengthening Ukraine, defeating russia and deterring putin from further aggression. The scale of the challenge facing the West is too great for Europeans to pass on to Washington. But Washington can help Europe achieve its full defense potential.


In addition, during his visit to Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed hope that Ukraine would win the war against russia and emphasized that it was important for the allies not to delay the delivery of aid to Ukraine and that if russia were to succeed in Ukraine, the West would have to spend much more on its defense.


Mr. Stoltenberg noted that Ukraine urgently needs more assistance, and the Allies have heard this call, as can be seen from the new assistance announced over the past week. For his part, President Zelenskyy said that in the negotiations between Ukraine and NATO, much attention is paid to further cooperation and real unification of forces between Ukraine and the Alliance. "It is no longer possible to imagine security in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community without Ukraine's effective participation and guarantee of such security. It is obvious that Ukraine will be in the Alliance," Zelenskyy said. Bloomberg reports.


In addition, another Bloomberg article notes that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed the allocation of $6 billion for long-term contracts to provide Ukraine with weapons such as Patriot missiles, artillery ammunition and drones.


I am convinced that we are on the verge of major geopolitical changes, and like most experts, I am inclined to believe that Europe must undergo a significant transformation in order to survive. International relations, including economic relations, have changed drastically because of the war in Europe waged by russia. The United States is really losing interest in Europe, and for the foreseeable future, its priority will be domestic American politics. That is why Mr. Macron's calls are particularly apt: "having such an aggressive neighbor as russia, with its ballistic capabilities and nuclear weapons, Europe must develop a concept of 'robust European defense' in which European countries will be able to act both side by side with the United States and 'alone, if necessary.

 



The Senate passed a long-delayed $95.3 billion foreign-aid package sending much-needed ammunition and military equipment to beleaguered Ukrainian soldiers and fortifying Israel’s missile defense systems, while also forcing the sale of Chinese-controlled TikTok in the U.S.


The 79-to-18 vote brought to a close months of wrenching debate over Ukraine that sharply split the Republican Party, with rank-and-file members openly rebelling against their leaders. The fight also called into question both how far the U.S. would go to defend the country, now in the third year of trying to repel Russia’s invasion, as well as America’s leadership role in the world.

 


The House of Representatives on Saturday passed separate bills to support Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. A fourth bill that cleared the House would seize frozen Russian sovereign assets and force a sale of the Chinese-controlled social media app TikTok, among other priorities.


All four bills cleared the House with more than 300 votes, albeit with shifting bipartisan coalitions. Support for partners in the Indo-Pacific attracted the highest tally at 385-34, a testament to the bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Thirty-seven Democrats and 21 Republicans opposed weapons for Israel, and 112 Republicans voted against the Ukraine bill.


At the core of these bills is U.S. self-defense. Some $23 billion of the roughly $60 billion Ukraine bill will replenish U.S. weapons stocks with better equipment than what America has given to Kyiv. Another $11 billion is marked for U.S. troops in Europe for ship and aircraft maintenance and more.

 


Ukrainians are breathing a sigh of relief. Within days, desperately needed ammunition and military equipment should begin flowing to Kyiv’s beleaguered forces. But even the $60 billion approved by Congress won’t be enough to enable a Ukrainian victory.


If Ukraine loses, the West will be faced with a much more dangerous Russia and a highly unstable security environment, one that could demand far more in Western blood and treasure. With Washington’s latest tranche of funding, Ukraine should survive through 2024. But while Europeans have done a lot, they need to pick up the slack and do more for Ukraine militarily.

 



Aware of the threat to Ukrainians, European states are trying to organize to come to their aid after having welcomed the resumption of the US's support, which could however still take a few weeks to materialize after the vote by the House of Representatives to provide $60.8 billion in aid. At the request of Josep Borrell, the 27 member states' high representative for foreign affairs, European ministers are due to attempt to step up their support in Luxembourg on Monday.

 



NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg told Ukrainians on Monday that his alliance’s members had failed to live up to their promises of military aid in recent months, but said the flow of arms and ammunition would now increase.


In an unannounced visit to Ukraine, the secretary general of the transatlantic military alliance held talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and was due to address Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada.


His visit – the third since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 - comes at a difficult time on the battlefield for Ukraine. After a failed Ukrainian counter-offensive last year, Russian forces have gained the initiative – at least in part due to a dearth of arms and ammunition from Kyiv’s Western partners.




Ukraine still has a chance to prevail on the battlefield after Moscow took advantage of delays in western military and financial aid, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “Ukraine has been outgunned for months,” the NATO chief said at a joint press conference in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday. “But it’s not too late for Ukraine to prevail.”

 



Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed Friday a $6 billion commitment for long-term contracts to provide Ukraine with weapons such as Patriot missiles, artillery ammunition and drones.


Austin laid out a broad commitment but not signed contracts, which would be likely to take months to complete under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative for systems that would then be delivered over time. He spoke at the Pentagon after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contract Group, which provides military support to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

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