NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Europeans to increase arms production so that they can help Ukraine more against Russia and replenish Europe’s own stocks. The aim, he said, is to prepare for a confrontation “that could last decades”.
(RFI) The statements were made in an interview with the German press. “This means moving from slow production in times of peace to fast production in times of conflict,” Stoltenberg told the Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
On February 15 and 16, the Atlantic military alliance is holding a meeting of the defense ministers of the countries that make up the organization in Brussels (Belgium). “There is no imminent military threat against an ally [of the alliance]. At the same time, the Kremlin regularly makes threats against NATO countries,” Stoltenberg noted, stressing that the invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago showed that “peace in Europe was not a foregone conclusion”.
“As long as we invest in our security and remain united, we will continue to deter aggression,” he stressed. “NATO is not looking for a war with Russia, but we must prepare for a confrontation that could last decades,” he warned.
Biden and Scholz press US Congress to approve package
On Friday, President Joe Biden and German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz called on the US Congress to approve more funding for Ukraine. Scholz is on an official visit to Washington.
On Thursday, the US Senate took the first step towards unblocking a package that includes around 60 billion dollars in military aid for Kiev. But approval remains uncertain, as many Republicans oppose the measure, following the lead of former President Donald Trump.
“The failure of the United States Congress to support Ukraine is almost criminal negligence,” Biden said as he welcomed Scholz to the Oval Office. “It’s outrageous.”
The German leader said he hoped for progress in the unblocking, claiming that “without the support of the United States and […] the European states, Ukraine would have no chance of defending its own country”.
The 27 countries of the European Union recently agreed to a package of E 50 billion (R$ 267 billion) until 2027, after Hungary withdrew its veto of the measure. Germany is the second largest contributor in absolute terms, after the United States, with more than E7 billion this year, and is asking its partners to increase their aid.
Scholz also accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “telling a lot of lies” in a “ridiculous interview” with American talk show host Tucker Carlson that aired on Thursday. “He wants to take part of his neighbors’ territory. It’s simply imperialistic,” said the German.
Attack kills children
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops are struggling at the front. The new army chief, Oleksander Sirski, has promised a “clear” plan to push back the Russians.
His main problem is a lack of ammunition. In addition, Kiev is demanding long-range missiles, but Washington and Berlin are hesitating for fear of provoking an uncontrollable escalation with the Kremlin, which has already mentioned the nuclear threat more than once.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Russian drone attacks on a gas station in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, killed seven people, including three children. The Iranian-made Shaded drones “hit a gas station and caused a spill of burning fuel, which caused 14 private houses to catch fire,” said the city’s mayor, Igor Terekhov, adding that the fire covered a large area and led to the evacuation of around fifty people.
With information from AFP