Ukraine is fighting Western war fatigue, minister says – POLITICO
BERLIN. Fighting war weariness in the West has become a top priority for Ukraine as it urges its allies to keep delivering weapons and other aid, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk said.
“There is a feeling that now the tank issue has been resolved, people can put their feet up,” Melnyk told POLITICO magazine ahead of a two-day summit with EU leaders in Kyiv. “Many still don’t understand that the war is far from over.”
Melnyk rose to international prominence last year as a tireless supporter of arms supplies from Germany, where he served as Ukraine’s ambassador until October. While his confrontational approach irritated many in Berlin, he managed to bring the arms issue to the forefront and put it at the center of a debate that culminated in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s decision last week to reverse course and put Kyiv on the battle tanks.
Melnyk said that while he welcomed the decision — even uncorking a rare beer to celebrate — Ukraine needs more from Germany and other Western countries, including fighter jets. Additional military support will be vital given that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “seems to have a bigger appetite than ever” to continue the war. Indeed, many Western military analysts see a Russian spring offensive as inevitable.
“Putin is not an enemy to be underestimated,” Melnyk said.
This is where the fighters come into play.
“Without air support, you cannot fight a modern war,” Melnik said. We need more aircraft both to help liberate our territory and to counter-offensive. We need everything that our partners can provide. We’re not doing this for fun.”
Part of Ukraine’s task is to convince wealthy Western European countries like Germany that they are just as vulnerable to Russian aggression as their eastern neighbors. Nothing in Putin’s past, from his 2008 invasion of Georgia to the annexation of Crimea, suggests that success in Ukraine will prompt him to stop marching. Continued support for Ukraine will ultimately depend on whether the European public understands the extent to which their own security is at stake.
While most Europeans support helping Ukraine fight Russia, the amount of military aid the region has provided so far is only a fraction of what the US has pledged nearly $30 billion. Germany, the largest donor to the EU, has agreed to send about 2.5 billion euros in military support.
That’s one reason Ukrainian officials insist their Western partners could do much more. Melnik, who is now in charge of relations with the Americas at the Foreign Office, said if time in Germany taught him anything, it was the value of perseverance.
“It’s worth starting a discussion even if you know you won’t achieve your goals tomorrow and end up being ridiculed and ridiculed,” he said. “In Germany, I learned that it is useful to take people out of their comfort zone. Most of the population had no idea what weapons systems were in service with the army. We helped educate them.”