War in Ukraine, day 686 | Zelensky criticizes the hesitations of the West, whose aid to Ukraine is decreasing

(Vilnius) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday in Lithuania that Western hesitations over aid deliveries to Kyiv were encouraging Vladimir Putin, who wants to “occupy” the entire territory of Ukraine.




“We need to pay attention to Putin’s rhetoric. He’s not going to stop. He wants to occupy us completely,” Zelensky said during a joint press conference in Vilnius with his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda, during the first leg of his surprise tour of the Baltics.

“Sometimes our partners’ hesitations regarding financial and military assistance to Ukraine only increase Russia’s courage and strength,” he added.

Mr. Zelensky arrived in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday morning before traveling to Estonia and Latvia, three former Soviet republics, now members of NATO and the EU and staunch supporters of Kyiv in the face of Russian invasion.

The visit comes after several waves of intense Russian bombings suffered by Ukraine since the end of December.

Mr. Zelensky assured the press that in the event of a Ukrainian defeat, other neighbors of Russia risked being attacked.

PHOTO PETRAS MALUKAS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Volodymyr Zelensky and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda

“We must understand that Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova could be the next victims if we do not hold on,” he warned.

Volodymyr Zelensky also stressed that his country “cruelly lacked” Western anti-aircraft defense systems in the face of the intensification of bombings.

“In recent days, Russia struck Ukraine with a total of 500 devices, we destroyed 70% of them,” he explained.

“End it”

According to Mr. Zelensky, the war in Ukraine will not end until Kyiv and the West are “finished” with the Russian president.

“He is not going to end this (editor’s note, the war) until we, together, are done with him,” he said.

The statements come at a time when an EU aid package worth 50 billion euros remains blocked in Brussels following Hungary’s veto, while the US Congress remains divided over provision of additional assistance to Kyiv.

According to a report from the German research center Kiel Institute published in December, aid promised to Ukraine between August and October 2023 fell by almost 90% compared to the same period in 2022, reaching its lowest level since the start of the war.

Lithuania is, for its part, the largest contributor of aid to Ukraine in proportion to GDP, according to the Kiel Institute which lists the military, financial and humanitarian aid promised and delivered to Ukraine since the 24 February 2022, date of the start of the Russian offensive.

This Baltic state has already committed to providing Kyiv with government aid totaling nearly 1.4% of its GDP, according to this research center.

On Wednesday, the Lithuanian president assured that his country would continue to “support the courageous Ukrainians by all means, including military, economic and political”.

He added that Lithuania would send several types of weapons to Ukraine in February, including drones and M577 armored vehicles.

“A much more dangerous world”

The other Baltic countries, Estonia and Latvia, were ranked second and fifth, with the aid announced from both NATO and EU members totaling respectively at 1.3 and 1.1% of their GDP.

Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna assured that Tallinn was ready to “allocate 0.25% of its GDP for military aid to Ukraine” over the next four years.

“It is much cheaper to support Ukraine now compared to the price the international community would have to pay if Russia achieved the goals of this ruthless aggression,” Tsahkna said on X Sunday.

For her part, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stressed on Wednesday the importance of unwavering support for Ukraine.

“We must support Ukraine as long as it takes (…) If we let the aggressors take precedence over international law and dictate the rules of the game, we will find ourselves in a much more dangerous world,” he said. -she hammered.

Latvia is committed, for its part, “to permanently providing military equipment and training to Ukrainian soldiers,” said its Minister of Defense, referring in particular to drones.

“This is our common fight for the future of freedom, democracy and the rules-based international order,” said Andris Spruds, who says his country will have trained around 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers in 2023. .


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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