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  • Writer's pictureAnton Kuchuhidze

International Press Review

November – 2 December 2022

Author – Anton Kuchukhidze

It was an intense week for Ukraine. Numerous complex issues that Ukraine has been raising for a long time are slowly starting to be addressed.

First of all, the European Commission presented a mechanism that can be used to compensate for damages caused to Ukraine. According to the European Commission, the losses amount to more than USD 600 billion due to the rashists’ large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

One of the mechanisms for searching for and investing funds in Ukraine is a creation a special fund where the arrested assets of the Central Russian Bank would be directed. We are talking about USD 300 billion. This fund will help restore Uksraine’s infrastructure. What is important is that the West, more specifically the European Union and the United States of America have made a political decision to transfer confiscated money to Ukraine. Currently, there are talks and debates about the legal purity of its implementation. It is a crucial political signal for our State and for understanding how and using what money we can rebuild it after the war.

Another important issue that could be monitored in the Western media is a question of weapons. This week both from the NATO Secretary General, the ministers of the Baltic and Nordic states, and US State Department representatives, we saw numerous signals in terms of Ukraine’s military strengthening and finding and providing effective air defence systems. As Bloomberg accurately stated, President Zelenskyi is defeating putin in a war on the ground, but the russians have an advantage in the air. Western partners must understand that for Ukraine’s quick victory, this advantage of the russians cannot be ignored.

That is, the West helped us get ahead in the equipment of the ground troops. Today, rashists have no advantage on the ground. Now, given intense statements and the number of publications in respected Western media about levelling the russians’ advantage in the air, it is likely that soon the West will start implementing practical decisions aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s air and missile defence.

One more important point is President Biden’s statement that next year in terms of US budgetary spending, Ukraine is one of the top priorities. It is another proof that, despite the results of the midterm elections in the United States of America, with a high probability, we can state that support from the United States of America will not decrease in 2023 but, on the contrary, will increase.

As Russia presses a campaign targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine while winter sets in, the head of NATO said the alliance must deny Moscow a victory that would embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian leaders.

Speaking at a meeting of the military alliance’s foreign ministers, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that the group must continue to provide military support for Ukraine, as U.S. officials have begun nudging Kyiv to consider peace, before the changing weather stalls the Ukrainian forces’ recent advances.

The U.S. government plans to provide a further $53 million to help Ukraine with the acquisition of electricity grid equipment, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on the sidelines of the NATO meeting. The supply package will include distribution transformers, circuit breakers and other equipment to help Ukrainians through the winter, the State Department said.

Ukraine’s Western allies say it is up to Kyiv to decide when to seek a settlement, nine months into a war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Top U.S. Democrats said on Tuesday that securing more funding for Ukraine and COVID-19 and passing a full-year spending bill are priorities before Republicans take control of the House of Representatives early next year.

President Joe Biden held talks at the White House with Democratic and Republican leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate on what can be done in the remaining weeks when Democrats still control both chambers.

The European Commission proposed a plan on Wednesday to compensate Ukraine for damage from Russia's invasion with proceeds from investing Russian funds frozen under sanctions.

Officials in the EU, United States and other Western countries have debated whether Ukraine can benefit from frozen Russian assets, including around $300 billion of Russia's central bank reserves and $20 billion held by blacklisted Russians.

"Russia must ... pay financially for the devastation that it caused," Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU's executive said in a statement.

"The damage suffered by Ukraine is estimated at 600 billion euros. Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the costs for rebuilding the country."

European Commission officials said that one short-term option for Western nations would be to create a fund to manage and invest liquid assets - mainly cash - of the central bank, and use the proceeds to support Ukraine.

The Commission is due to present a proposal for a directive on Friday, December 2, to specify the legislative basis that the EU-27 will have to adopt to punish this new crime.

Zelenskiy is winning the land war, but Putin has the advantage in the air war.

While Putin’s stocks of precision-guided missiles are rapidly depleting (witness his turning to Iran for high-tech weapons), he still has plenty of dumb bombs, stockpiled for decades going back to the Cold War. Because he doesn’t care about collateral damage or civilian deaths, he will try to kill as many as he can from the skies.

As the reality of his approach sinks in, the West must increase its support to Ukrainian air-defense efforts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, of course, desires a NATO no-fly zone above all else. He often implores the West to “close the skies” of his nation. More likely, he will receive increased numbers of high-end air-to-surface missiles systems like the superb Iron Dome (developed jointly by the US and Israel), NATO Patriot batteries (that are also going along the Polish border), and possibly tactical fighters.

With a land war favoring Ukraine and a brutal air war favoring Russia, the West’s best option will be to significantly increase its assistance to Ukraine on the air war side of the conflict. Giving the Ukrainians more tools to close their own skies may be the key to forcing the Russians to ultimately negotiate, perhaps as soon as early spring, given the success Zelenskiy and his military have achieved on the ground.

The fact is that the invasion, which under the Putin blueprint should have been done and dusted in seven days, has ushered in a new era of industrial warfare, a test of the capacity of Russia and the West to speed up the production lines of their arms factories.

Fundamental improvements are needed if the West is going to show it is capable of fighting a sustained full-blown war — increased industrial co-operation between allies, standardising weapons systems, building up stockpiles at a faster rate. This is an arms race we have to win if Nato is to retain any credibility in the future.

It’s all about the weapons — and we’ll do everything to get them to Kyiv.

That was the message from Nordic and Baltic ministers who arrived in the snow-covered Ukrainian capital on Monday morning.

Ukraine’s partners “have to take into account the need to provide Ukraine with air defense systems so that we can prevent the Russians from hitting the new equipment,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström in between meetings with Ukrainian officials Monday, noting that his country will provide air defense systems as part of a winter assistance package.

“Even though there are very pressing needs,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said, “from my side I think that I will be advocating that we cannot forget that the main task is that we need to help Ukraine win the war.”

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