KYIV: Ukraine and its Western allies are engaged in “fast-track” talks on the possibility of equipping the invaded country with long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top Ukrainian presidential aide said Saturday (Jan 28).
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Ukraine’s supporters in the West “understand how the war is developing” and the need to supply planes capable of providing cover for the armoured fighting vehicles that the United States and Germany pledged at the beginning of the month.
However, in remarks to the online video channel Freedom, Podolyak said that some of Ukraine’s Western partners maintain a “conservative” attitude to arms deliveries, “due to fear of changes in the international architecture”. Russia and North Korea have accused the West of prolonging and taking a direct role in the war by sending Kyiv increasingly sophisticated weapons.
“We need to work with this. We must show (our partners) the real picture of this war,” Podolyak said, without naming specific countries. “We must speak reasonably and tell them, for example, ‘This and this will reduce fatalities, this will reduce the burden on infrastructure. This will reduce security threats to the European continent, this will keep the war localized.’ And we are doing it.”
The US and Germany agreed Wednesday to share advanced tanks with Ukraine along with the Bradley and Marder vehicles promised earlier, a decision that led to criticism not only from the Kremlin but from the prime minister of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and European Union member Hungary.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban asserted Friday that Western countries providing weapons and money to assist Ukraine in its war with Russia have “drifted” into becoming active participants in the conflict. Orban has refused to send weapons to neighbouring Ukraine and sought to block EU funds earmarked for military aid.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it would summon Hungary’s ambassador to complain about Orban’s remarks. A ministry spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, said Orban told reporters that Ukraine was “a no man’s land” and compared it to Afghanistan.
“Such statements are completely unacceptable. Budapest continues on its course to deliberately destroy Ukrainian-Hungarian relations,” Nikolenko said in a Facebook post.
President Joe Biden’s announcement that the US would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine reversed months of arguments by Washington that they were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain.
The US decision persuaded German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who had expressed concern about a unilateral action drawing Russia’s wrath, to agree to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany’s stocks and to allow European countries with tanks to send some of theirs.