More Than Ever, Europe Knows It Can't Allow Ukraine To Fail
Volodymyr Zelensky's visits this week to London, Paris and Brussels reinforce the intertwined fates of Europe and Ukraine. And for Kyiv that will ultimately mean more weapons support.
PARIS — Volodymyr Zelensky's first trip abroad since his country’s invasion almost a year ago was to Washington. The second was reserved for Ukraine's neighbors in Europe: London and Paris yesterday, and today Brussels, to meet the "27" of the European Union.
There is obviously a logic to this order: without the United States, it must be recognized, Ukraine would undoubtedly be a Russian colony by now, and Zelensky himself a prisoner, or dead. But without Europe, Ukraine would not have a "host family," which has received millions of refugees, provided some 50 billion euros in support in one year, and promised to bring them into the EU club as soon as it is possible.
But the Ukrainian President has not come to say 'thank you.' He comes to ring the alarm, because on the battlefield, his forces are under increasing pressure from Russia, which is betting on its numerical superiority and its ability to bear heavier losses than Ukraine.
So his message is always the same: send us weapons, weapons, weapons.
Russia is reinforcing
The tone is more serious among Western officials dealing with the issue, because everything is possible in the following weeks, including a Russian advance that would change the balance of power.
Vladimir Putin's army was reorganized after the disasters that stretched from the beginning of the war through the loss of Kherson in the fall. Today, it has the reinforcements of the partial mobilization of September, with at least 300,000 more men under the flag, and a command taken over by a Kremlin stalwart, General Valery Gerasimov.
The Ukrainians maintain their positions thanks to their relentlessness, as currently seen in Bakhmut, the epicenter of the toughest fighting right now. But they also can count on the superiority of their Western armament. Hence the call to send more, and, permanently, to go upmarket. Yesterday in London, Zelensky got the UK to commit to training Ukrainian pilots, as supplying fighter jets is the next step after the promises last month of heavy tanks.
President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Olaf Scholz meeting Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Paris.
After a year of the war, European leaders are convinced that the fate of Ukraine and Europe are tied together. They can therefore no longer retreat without weakening themselves. They will therefore continue to support Ukraine with arms and money.
Even those who, like Emmanuel Macron, believe that this conflict will ultimately have to end around a negotiating table, and by providing a way out for Russia, agree: that moment has not yet arrived. And it will only be possible if the balance of power is not reversed in favor of Moscow.
In Paris, vows are repeated in any case that there will be no putting pressure on the Ukrainian president to make concessions, territorial or otherwise. His coming to Paris is also a sign that he has not lost confidence, despite certain comments that Emmanuel Macron has made in recent months that have bothered Kyiv.
Zelensky therefore first came to seek help, but also to give us good new reasons to continue to help him. Europe and Ukraine are now one and the same: this is the unexpected result of the war that Putin launched one year ago.