European Leaders to Gather in Paris to Bolster Ukraine at ‘Critical Moment’

European leaders were set to gather in Paris on Monday in an attempt to showcase unity and resolve in their support for Ukraine as the embattled country confronts a dire situation on the battlefield against Russia and in Washington , where Republicans in Congress are blocking badly needed financial aid....READ FULL ARTICLE

The meeting, convened by President Emmanuel Macron of France, is scheduled to include about 20 or so heads of state and top officials, including from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is to attend the evening meeting by videoconference.

“We are at a critical moment,” Mr. Macron said on Saturday during a visit to a major agricultural fair in Paris , adding that the meeting would “bolster our position” and give Ukraine more “visibility” for the coming months.

“Russia cannot win in Ukraine,” he added.

A senior official in the French presidency, speaking on the condition of anonymity in keeping with French government practice, said that the meeting was not expected to end with concrete announcements of new military aid.

Instead, the official said that it was intended to shore up support for Ukraine, better coordinate aid and send a message to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that Europe was determined to see him fail.

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There are growing worries in Europe that little has succeeded in thwarting Mr. Putin so far. Russia captured the eastern city of Avdiivka , once a Ukrainian stronghold, about a week ago in its biggest battlefield victory for months.

It has since been pressing on with attacks along the more than 600-mile front line , seizing small villages in the east and threatening to recapture land in the south hard-won by Ukraine during its summer counteroffensive.

Mr. Zelensky said on Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since Russia’s full-scale invasion began two years ago, acknowledging for the first time a concrete figure for Ukraine’s toll in the war. But his tally is far lower than U.S. estimates, which put the death toll at about 70,000.

Military experts and Ukrainian officials say that Ukrainian troops have been hindered by a shortage of ammunition and weapons, largely the result of declining Western military assistance, and that the situation will worsen if Ukraine does not receive more support soon.

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“The next few months are going to be difficult for us,” Mr. Zelensky said at a news conference in Kyiv on Sunday , noting that the political bickering in Congress, where a $60 billion aid package to Ukraine has stalled, was undermining his country’s war effort.
President Biden will meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday to try to unblock emergency aid for Ukraine, the White House said.

Referring to American lawmakers, Mr. Zelensky said, “They know we need support within a month.” He praised Europe’s effort to help fill the void left by the United States, saying the continent “has shown its ability to be a leader.”

Aid commitments by European Union countries and institutions total close to $150 billion, more than twice the amount pledged by the United States, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy , a research organization.

European leaders have shown an increasing willingness to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia as the war drags on and with additional American aid in doubt.

The prime ministers of Belgium, Denmark and Italy, as well as the head of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, recently visited Ukraine for the second anniversary of the war and to express their continued support.

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Denmark and Italy finalized bilateral security agreements with Ukraine, bringing to five the number of European countries that have signed such accords with Kyiv in an effort to deter further Russian aggression.

Still, it is unclear to what extent Europe can replace the United States as the guarantor of Ukraine’s ability to fight. The Kiel Institute said that European Union members and institutions had so far allocated only half of the $150 billion pledged.

Rustem Umerov, Ukraine’s defense minister, said on Sunday that whenever aid failed to arrive on time, “We lose people, we lose territories.”
Mr. Zelensky said on Sunday that four brigades had not taken part in Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive because the military had not received the necessary equipment.

“Can you imagine the numbers of guys who would have fought, who couldn’t?” he asked. “The ones that had to sit and wait for the equipment they never received?”…READ FULL ARTICLE

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