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Zelensky criticizes decreasing aid to Ukraine

Petras Malukas Agence France-Presse Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda in the courtyard of Lithuania's Presidential Palace

Damien Simonart – Agence France-Presse and Saulius Jakucionis to Vilnius

9:05 p.m.

  • Europe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Lithuania on Wednesday that Western hesitation over aid deliveries to Kiev encouraged Vladimir Putin, who wants to “occupy” all of Ukraine.

“We need to pay attention to Putin’s rhetoric. He's not going to stop. He wants to occupy us completely,” Zelensky said during a joint press conference in Vilnius with his Lithuanian counterpart, Gitanas Nauseda, during the first leg of his surprise tour to the Baltics.

“Sometimes our partners' hesitations regarding financial and military assistance to Ukraine only increase Russia's courage and strength,” he added.

Mr. Zelensky arrived in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday morning before traveling to Estonia and Latvia, three former Soviet republics, now members of NATO and the EU and firm supporters of Kiev in the face of the Russian invasion .

The visit comes after several waves of intense Russian bombings suffered by Ukraine since the end of December.

Mr. Zelensky assured the press that in the event of a Ukrainian defeat, other neighbors of Russia risked being attacked.

“We must understand that Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova could be the next victims if we do not hold on,” he warned.

Volodymyr Zelensky also stressed that his country “severely lacks” Western air defense systems. “In recent days, Russia struck Ukraine with a total of 500 devices, we destroyed 70% of them,” he explained.

“End it”

At a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, NATO countries reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening Ukraine's defenses. They “have made clear that they will continue to provide Ukraine with significant military, economic and humanitarian assistance, and many allies have outlined plans to provide billions of euros in additional capabilities in 2024,” the statement said. 'Alliance in a press release.

According to Mr. Zelensky, the war in Ukraine will not end until kyiv and the West are “done” with the Russian president.

“He’s not going to end this [the war] until we, together, are done with him,” he said.

These statements come at a time when an EU aid package worth 50 billion euros remains blocked in Brussels following Hungary's veto, while the US Congress remains divided on providing additional assistance to Kiev.

According to a report from the German research center Kiel Institute published in December, aid promised to Ukraine between August and October 2023 fell by almost 90% compared to the same period in 2022, reaching its lowest level since the start of the war.

Lithuania is, for its part, the largest contributor of aid to Ukraine as a proportion of GDP, according to the Kiel Institute, which tracks military, financial and humanitarian aid promised and delivered to Ukraine since February 24, 2022, date of the start of the Russian offensive.

This Baltic state has already committed to providing Kiev with government aid totaling almost 1.4% of its GDP, according to this research center.

On Wednesday, the Lithuanian president assured that his country would continue to “support the courageous Ukrainians by all means, including military, economic and political.”

He added that Lithuania would send several types of weapons to Ukraine in February, including drones and M577 armored vehicles.

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“A Much More Dangerous World”

The other Baltic countries, Estonia and Latvia, were ranked in second and fifth positions, the aid announced by these two members of both NATO and the EU totaling 1.3 and 1.1% of GDP respectively.

Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna assured that Tallinn is ready to “allocate 0.25% of its GDP for military aid to Ukraine” over the next four years.

“It is much cheaper to support Ukraine now, compared to the price the international community would have to pay if Russia achieves the goals of this ruthless aggression,” Mr. Tsahkna told the X network Sunday.

For her part, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stressed on Wednesday the importance of unwavering support for Ukraine.

“We must support Ukraine for as long as it takes […] If we allow the aggressors to override international law and dictate the rules of the game, we will find ourselves in a world much more dangerous,” she insisted.

Latvia is committed, for its part, “to permanently providing military equipment and training to Ukrainian soldiers,” said its Defense Minister, referring in particular to drones.

“This is our common fight for the future of freedom, democracy and the rules-based international order,” said Andris Spruds, who says his country has trained in 2023 around 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116