Rassegna Esteri

NATO seeks to prolong Ukraine war 

Tehran Times – The U.S.-led military alliance has been shipping arms to Ukraine in stages, depending on which side has the upper hand in the conflict. After Russia launched what it described as a “special military operation” on Ukraine in February 2022 to de-nazify the country, NATO shipped light arms to Kyiv

As Russian forces advanced, heavier and more sophisticated weapons have been sent to Ukraine, including modern battle tanks and Soviet-era fighter jets. The flashpoint of the war has taken place mainly in the country’s eastern Donbas region next to the Russian border. 

The latest pledge in billions of euros of weapons to Ukraine is another bid to maintain a stalemate and comes after Russia appears to have the upper hand in the eastern Donbas city of Bakhmut, the longest and deadliest battle of the war so far. 

Experts have pointed out that capturing Bakhmut would effectively pave the way for Moscow to secure the entire Donbas region. 

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, says “the fiercest battles continued to be fought by units on the western outskirts of Bakhmut.” 

This is the last remaining flank Ukraine says its forces hold on to in the city.

The promise to ship more arms was secured in the Ukrainian President’s quick trip to NATO members in Europe. Volodymyr Zelensky’s whirlwind tour to NATO members was not on a peace initiative as the international community has been calling for.

Instead, it comes ahead of a long-expected counter offensive that will drag out the conflict for a prolonged period of time.

The NATO members that the Ukrainian leader visited have stated the weapons are needed to assist Ukraine in this anticipated counter offensive.

Zelensky secured billions of dollars in military aid during the tour, which ended in the UK, where Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced more military hardware from British arms manufacturers. 

This comes after the UK became the first NATO member to supply Kyiv with long-range cruise missiles, which will allow Ukrainian forces to hit Russian forces and depots far behind the front lines.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Russia viewed Britain’s decision to supply the missiles “extremely negatively”.

“Britain claims to be at the forefront among those countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine,” he told reporters in a daily call.

London’s arms shipments will not change much on the ground, Peskov said, adding, “It cannot have any significant or major impact on the course of the Special Military Operation, but it all leads to more destruction, to further military action and so on. So, for Ukraine, it makes things much more complex.”

Konashenkov has announced for the first time that the Russian military had downed a long-range Storm Shadow missile supplied to Kyiv by London, which only last week publicly announced that it was providing them.

“Air defense systems intercepted seven (U.S. shorter-range) HARM anti-radar missiles, one (British) Storm Shadow long-range cruise missile, and ten (U.S. shorter-range) HIMARS-launched missiles during the day,” he stated.

But NATO still refuses to deliver more advanced warplanes that Ukraine has been long asking for. 

The U.S.-led alliance publicly says Russian forces have been heavily weakened during the Ukraine war, yet the unwillingness to send sophisticated warplanes comes from NATO member’s fear of a direct confrontation with Moscow.

After Zelensky held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, the French leader announced France will begin training Ukrainian fighter jet pilots on his country’s soil, an idea the Macron government had refused to entertain just a few months ago. 

During an interview with France’s TF1 Presenter Gilles Bouleau, Macron was pressed on why the government has now decided that Paris is ready to train Ukrainian war plane pilots in France. 

This is while France has rejected Ukraine’s request to deliver fighter jets to Kyiv in line with NATO’s policy of keeping the conflict at an impasse.

Here is a snippet of the interview:

TF1 Presenter:

“He (Zelensky) must have asked you for fighter jets, as he asks all the Western leaders he meets. You told him no? No for today, no for tomorrow, no forever?”

President Macron (deflecting on the question):

“We have opened the door to training the pilots.”

TF1 Presenter:

“In France? Ukrainian pilots in France?”

French President Macron:

“(And we are doing this) with several other European countries which are ready, and talks are ongoing with the Americans.”

TF1 Presenter:

“From when for the French planes? On Mirage 2000s? We can guess.”

French President Macron (deflecting on the question):

“Training can start right now.”

TF1 Presenter: 

“So there is no taboo?”

French President Macron:

“There is no taboo… (Presenter interrupts Macron and says “there was a taboo for a few months”). No, we always followed the same line.

Pressed further about delivering warplanes to Ukraine, Macron said he had not discussed that issue with Zelensky. 

As the U.S.-led NATO military alliance ships tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons to a conflict that sees no signs of abating any time soon, there has been a drain on resources in the NATO member countries who are facing major economic problems.

These problems have strongly affected the public sector in many Western countries, who have seen both public and private sector workers repeatedly go on strike and stage protests over an unprecedented rising cost of living crisis as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. 

The protests have increasingly seen demonstrations against support for the war, NATO itself and in France a rally was held in protest against the Ukrainian leader’s visit to the country.

Meanwhile, Russian officials have denounced remarks by Macron that Moscow is becoming a subservient to China, saying Western countries must get used to a new world, nurtured by a strong Moscow-Beijing relationship.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in an official visit, during which the two sides said they were deepening their strategic partnership by entering “a new era” of ties.

Peskov says Russia’s ties with China had nothing to do with dependence on Beijing and were more to do with those of a strategic partner.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko also implied that the West had become obsessed with Moscow’s strengthened relations with China and changes that implied for a new world order.

“The West is scared by the emergence of a multilateral system of international relations with a range of independent centers, such as Russia and China, which is happening before our very eyes, this emerging new world order means the end to the centuries-long dominance of the golden billion countries.” Grushko wrote in a statement on the ministry’s website.

According to Russian officials, the West cannot get rid of its bad habits of pitting old friends against each other by any means possible and ongoing attempts at driving a wedge between one country’s ties against another. 

By Ali Karbalaei

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