Belgium pledges $1 billion to Ukraine amid Zelenskyy’s European visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received another pledge of $1 billion in military aid on Tuesday, marking the second consecutive day of such support during his rapid visit to the European Union. This aid is crucial in his ongoing conflict with Russia.

Belgium has made a pledge for 2024, announcing their commitment to provide 30 F-16 fighter jets over the next four years. This pledge is a significant contribution towards enhancing military capabilities.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy stated that the objective is to deploy the first F-16 on the battlefield this year, with the aim of strengthening their positions.

The Netherlands further demonstrated their support by pledging to promptly collaborate with crucial EU allies to deploy a Patriot air defense system. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy considers this system crucial in preventing Russia from targeting his country’s power grid, civilian areas, and military assets with highly destructive glide bombs that result in extensive devastation.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg expressed his appreciation for the action, but emphasized the need for further efforts. “While we acknowledge the progress made, it is crucial that Ukraine continues to enhance its air defense capabilities,” Stoltenberg stated before attending a meeting with EU defense ministers.

Ukraine received a significant boost in military aid as President Zelenskyy recently signed a security agreement with Spain. Under the agreement, Ukraine will receive 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in military aid in 2024, and a further 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) by 2027. This substantial support will undoubtedly strengthen Ukraine’s security and defense capabilities.

The European Union is currently facing challenges to provide military aid to Kyiv due to Hungary’s objections. The bilateral aid becomes crucial in this situation as the 27-nation bloc seeks alternatives to support Ukraine, which has been engaged in a war since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

The Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is currently delaying an estimated 6.5 billion euros ($7 billion) in funds. This has caused concerns as Hungary is seen as Russia’s strongest ally within the European Union. Due to the significant veto powers held by individual member states, Hungary has been able to obstruct the allocation of funds intended to support Ukraine’s defense initiatives.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed disappointment that despite having the necessary funds and resources, the implementation of aid decisions for Ukraine is still pending. He highlighted the irony of the situation, emphasizing that the EU has the financial means and the capability to provide assistance, yet crucial decisions remain unresolved.

During his meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Tuesday, Zelenskyy not only secured immediate financial assistance but also successfully negotiated a security agreement. This agreement aims to ensure that Ukraine receives military support until it becomes a member of the NATO alliance.

Ukraine urgently requires an additional seven U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems as Russia initiated a spring offensive in eastern Kharkiv. Zelenskyy has been steadfast in emphasizing this pressing need.

During a meeting with her EU counterparts, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren announced that a system, aimed at enhancing European defense capabilities, will be constructed within a short time frame. The Netherlands already possesses the necessary core components for a Patriot system, while other EU nations will contribute additional crucial parts and munitions.

According to her, Ukraine is actively engaged in the battle for Europe.

Zelenskyy had plans to visit Belgium and Spain earlier this month. However, he decided to postpone all his foreign trips after Russia initiated its offensive in the Kharkiv region.

In recent months, Ukraine has made multiple attempts to target Russian forces, with a particular focus on using drones. However, Russia has been able to enhance its response to this new technology in unmanned vehicles.

The improving weather has unleashed a wave of military challenges for Ukraine, marking the country’s most significant test since Russia’s full-scale invasion commenced. Unfortunately, Ukraine has been left vulnerable to Russia’s superior army and air force due to the slow delivery of support from its Western allies, particularly the prolonged delay in U.S. military aid.

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MBS Staff
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