Ukraine's Zelensky, at NATO HQ, seeks arms to get through winter

On his first visit to NATO HQ since Russia's invasion, Zelensky said the coming cold months would be one of Ukraine's biggest challenges

Marine Strauss and Andrew GrayReuters
Published : 11 Oct 2023, 08:48 AM
Updated : 11 Oct 2023, 08:48 AM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the NATO military alliance headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday in search of more air defence systems, artillery and ammunition to help his country through another wartime winter.

On his first visit to NATO HQ since Russia's full-scale invasion in February last year, Zelensky said the coming cold months would be one of Ukraine's biggest challenges.

"We are preparing, we are ready. Now we need some support from the leaders," he told reporters before meeting defence ministers from NATO and some 20 other countries that give military aid to Ukraine in a US-led forum known as the Ukraine Defence Contact Group.

  • Ukrainian leader meets allies supplying military aid

  • Kyiv wants more air defence to fend off Russian attacks

  • NATO boss says Putin planning to use winter as 'weapon'

  • Writes through with quotes from Zelensky, Stoltenberg

Standing alongside Zelensky, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin was "preparing once again to use winter as a weapon of war" by attacking energy infrastructure in Ukraine.

"We need to prevent that, with more advanced and increased capabilities for air defence, we can make a big difference," Stoltenberg said.

On Wednesday, a US defence official said a new $200 million aid package for Ukraine will be announced, to include air defence missiles and munitions.

Washington has provided $44 billion to supply Kyiv with dozens of tanks, thousands of rockets and millions of rounds of ammunition since Russia's invasion but support is falling among Americans of both major political parties.

US REASSURANCE

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive over the summer to try and retake territory in the south and east, but has so far failed to make major breakthroughs past Russia's network of fortifications and minefields.

Diplomats expect US officials such as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Air Force General Charles Q Brown, the new top US military officer, to try to reassure NATO allies and Ukraine that Washington will continue to provide support to Kyiv despite aid being held up by infighting in the US Congress.

Zelensky was also due to meet Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. He said they would discuss proposals to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine.

NATO defence ministers were to sit down with their Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov in the NATO-Ukraine Council, established at the alliance's Vilnius summit in July.

During a two-day meeting, ministers will also discuss issues of concern beyond the war in Ukraine, including damage to a subsea gas pipeline and a telecommunications cable linking NATO members Finland and Estonia reported on Tuesday.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is to join the ministers on Thursday via videoconference to discuss

Hamas' weekend assault and its consequences.