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The war in Ukraine: Volodimir Zelensky visited NATO and asked for continuity of military support

Volodimir Zelensky, Ukrainian president, arrived this Wednesday in Brussels, on an unscheduled visit, to make his country do not look damaged due to the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Zelensky participated in a meeting of NATO defense ministers and especially in a subsequent meeting of the so-called ‘Ramstein’ group, which brings together governments that provide military aid to Ukraine, whether or not they are members of the Atlantic Alliance.

The Ukrainian president came with a list of military equipment in his pocket. You need more ammunition and weapons to get through the winter, especially anti-aircraft because he fears that Russia will launch a bombing campaign against the Ukrainian energy infrastructure in the coming weeks to make the country suffer a winter without energy. Russian attacks on power plants and energy hubs caused a large part of the Ukrainian population to suffer electrical blackouts and heating cuts during the winter months.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of Norway said alongside Zelensky that “air defense is essential to protect the economy, inhabitants and infrastructure” of Ukraine. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin assured Zelensky that his country would hand over “whatever it takes and for as long as it takes.”

Atlantic sources confess that the United States and the Europeans are digging deep into their arsenals because the capacity of their defense industries to produce certain ammunition (like artillery shells) is less than the rate at which Ukraine consumes it.

These same sources are confident that there will be no problems in continuing to supply weapons and ammunition to Ukraine despite the fact that the United States is already beginning to reinforce the Israeli Armed Forces. These are different needs except in the event that the Israelis launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip and that entails a long conflict that consumes a lot of military material.

Zelensky is not entirely confident. In an interview on French television, Zelensky said Tuesday that “international attention risks deviating from Ukraine, and that would have consequences”. That is why he asks that the commitment to the defense of his country remain firm. Zelensky also asked European leaders to go to Israel, not to support one political leader or another, but “to support people who have suffered terrorist attacks.”

A view of NATO headquarters in Brussels. AP Photo

The Ukrainian president also accuses Russia of trying to sow chaos in the Middle East so that the world stops watching what Russian troops are doing in Ukraine.

The visit to Brussels also has a bilateral component with the Belgian government because the Belgian Air Force is one of the first to confirm the transfer of F-16 combat aircraft to Ukrainian pilots, already trained for months in Poland. But Belgium delays delivery until at least 2025 because it waits until then receive the first F-35 of the 32 units purchased from the United States that will replace the F-16 in the Belgian Air Force.

NATO has more scenarios to address. It has an eye on Armenia and Azerbaijan and two weeks ago had to mobilize more troops and material towards Kosovo after tensions with Serbia reignited. Another front could soon open in the Baltic after Finland denounced on Monday that an important gas pipeline with Estonia had been burst by an “external actor” and all eyes once again fell on Russia.

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