American and allied military leaders discuss Ukraine weapons needs at new council
Stars and Stripes November 17, 2023
NATO generals held their first meeting with a newly formed Ukraine Council this week, a meeting that comes amid uncertainty about the durability of Western support for the war-torn country.
The NATO Military Committee met Thursday with the newly formed NATO-Ukraine Council, a format established by allies earlier this year to give Kyiv a larger voice on matters relating to its security.
The session involved an assessment of Ukraine’s efforts to push Russia from its entrenched positions in the country’s south and east, and the range of weapons Kyiv needs to continue its counteroffensive.
“Supporting Ukraine is in our own security interest, because the world would be a more dangerous place if President (Vladimir) Putin gets what he wants through the use of force,” said Dutch Adm. Rob Bauer, the head of the NATO Military Committee. “NATO must remain committed to providing support, so that Ukraine can prevail as a sovereign nation.”
But as the war drags on, it’s unclear whether allies have the domestic political unity required to keep the weapons flowing. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022, allies have repeatedly stated that Western military support for Kyiv was a long-term commitment and that NATO members were in it for the long haul.
Yet questions persist regarding the prospects for future support, particularly in connection with the United States, which is by far the largest donor to Ukraine.
On Thursday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Ukraine’s ability to counter Russia will be compromised if Congress fails to approve a White House request for more funding.
“Each week that passes, our ability to fully fund what we feel is necessary to give Ukraine the tools and capacities it needs to both defend its territory and continue to make advances, that gets harder and harder,” Sullivan said. “So, for us, the window is closing.”
The White House budget request calls for funding for Ukraine and Israel, but the situation remains in limbo. Republicans in the House of Representatives have excluded support for Ukraine from their most recent proposed budget, given disagreements within the party about the merits of continuing to spend billions to arm the country’s military.
Maj. Gen. Serhii Salkutsan, Ukraine’s representative during talks Thursday in Brussels, said the support provided Ukraine from allies thus far “has been instrumental in our fight to take back our territory, our homes and our freedom.”