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‘Weapons, weapons and weapons’: Ukraine makes its request to NATO clear

Ukraine has urged NATO to supply more weapons as it seeks to defend itself against further aggression from Russia.

Members of the NATO military alliance have been supplying Kyiv with weapons ever since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February. The U.S., for instance, has supplied anti-aircraft Stingers, thousands of anti-tank weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition.

However, for Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba, this is not enough.

“My agenda is very simple. It only has three items on it. It’s weapons, weapons, and weapons,” Kuleba said as he arrived in Brussels, Belgium for a meeting with NATO members.

“In the recent month(s), in the recent weeks Ukrainian army and the entire Ukrainian nation has demonstrated that we know how to fight. We know how to win. But without sustainable and sufficient supplies of all weapons requested by Ukraine, these wins will be accompanied with enormous sacrifices,” he added.

The Czech Republic became the first NATO member earlier this week to announce the deployment of tanks to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s request for more practical help comes at a crucial moment in the war.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that Russia is moving forces from north Ukraine to reinforce them and move them to the east.

“President Putin’s aim is to try to control the whole of Donbas and to establish a land bridge … We have seen no indication that President Putin has changed his ambition to control the whole of Ukraine and also to rewrite the international order,” he said.

“We need to be prepared for the long haul.”

Energy sanctions

Thursday’s discussions at NATO’s headquarters come as the EU debates if and when the bloc introduces a ban on Russian oil.

The issue of imposing sanctions on Russian energy is a contentious one for Europe, which is highly dependent on Moscow for its gas, oil and, to smaller extent, coal.

The 27-member bloc has this week been working to put an end to imports of Russian coal in response to mounting evidence of atrocities committed by Russian forces.

One EU official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks, said this is likely to take effect from August onward.

Now, however, there is growing momentum behind a potential ban on Russian oil.

“We are working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports, and we are reflecting on some of the ideas presented by the member states, such as taxes or specific payment channels such as an escrow account,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

EU foreign affairs ministers will be debating an oil ban on Monday next week. There needs to be consensus among all 27 member states to move ahead with further sanctions.

Over 19% of the EU’s coal imports came from Russia in 2020, according to official European statistics. In contrast, 36.5% of its oil imports were from Russia, as were a whopping 41.1% of its gas imports.

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