February 23, 2024

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Spanish PM reaffirms EU support in Kiev

Spanish PM reaffirms EU support in Kiev

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday in Kyiv, the first day of the Spanish presidency of the European Union, reiterated the European Union’s support for Ukraine, although it condemned the delay in military aid promised by the West.

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“From the point of view of the European Union, my presence on the first day of this six-month presidency (…) in Ukraine’s accession demonstrates a clear and unequivocal political commitment on the part of social institutions,” said Mr. Sanchez during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The visit also comes ahead of a crucial NATO summit planned for July 11-12 in Vilnius to pave the way for future relations between Ukraine and the Western military establishment.

“We need a very clear and intelligent signal at the Vilnius summit that Ukraine can become a full member of NATO after the war,” the Ukrainian president stressed to journalists in this regard.

“This call for partnership is the first step, very concrete, and it will be very important for us.”

Mr. A joint statement released after the meeting with Sánchez said Spain “reaffirms its support for Ukraine’s candidacy for the European Union, which will be one of the priorities of its presidency” and “supports the strengthening of the partnership between NATO and Ukraine, including the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council.”

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The Spanish prime minister announced the visit at an EU summit on Thursday, explaining that his aim was to show the union’s “unwavering support” to Kyiv in the face of a Russian invasion.

Ukraine gained EU candidate status a year ago and hopes to start formal negotiations this year on steps to take to boost its membership prospects.

Nevertheless, President Zelensky reiterated his criticism of “some” Western partners for training Ukrainian airmen to fly fighter jets.

“Do they have any idea when Ukraine will be able to get the F-16s?” That Mr. He said with Sanchez. “There is no training schedule. I think some partners are dragging their feet,” he added.

Sixteen months after the start of the Russian invasion, Ukraine said on Saturday it was fighting “severe” battles as part of its counteroffensive, which began about a month ago but has yet to make a decisive step forward.

The Ukrainian military is hampered by a lack of weapons, particularly US F-16 fighter jets, its commander Valery Zalosny said in an interview published Friday by the Washington Post.

“We don’t need 120 planes. I’m not going to threaten the entire planet. A small number would be enough,” he told the US daily. “But they are necessary, there is no other solution”.

He also bemoans the lack of artillery in the face of a deluge of Russian fire.

While Valery Salujny says he is in constant contact with Western military partners like US Chief of Staff Mark Milley, he regrets that they are not the decision-makers.

“By the time decisions are taken, it is obvious that many people are dying every day and in greater numbers. Simply because decisions are not taken immediately,” he asserts.

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Mark Milley in Washington responded that the US and its allies are doing what they can to send Ukraine what it needs.

“We are doing all we can to help them,” he told reporters on Friday. Giving them F-16s or ATACMS tactical missiles “is on the table, but no decision has been made yet.”

The counter-offensive was “going slower than we predicted”, he realised, but “such is war”.

However, the U.S. military chief noted that the Ukrainian military was making “constant advances,” “500, 1,000, 2,000 meters a day, that kind of thing.”

In addition, Director of the CIA William Burns recently met with the heads of the Ukrainian secret services, Mr. A US official confirmed to AFP that he had also traveled to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky.

During this trip, Mr. Burns reaffirmed “the United States’ commitment to sharing all information necessary for Ukraine to defend itself against Russian aggression.”