NATO countries urgently need to boost weapons production, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said ahead of a meeting of the alliance’s ministers this week in an interview with POLITICO.
“While we are fighting the battles of today, we have to think how we will be fighting the battles of tomorrow,” Kuleba said adding it would not be possible to win on the battlefield in the longer term without investing in making more weapons.
NATO ministers are set to hold talks on Tuesday and Wednesday in Bucharest, with the agenda expected to include how to better support Ukraine.
“The last time I attended [a] NATO ministerial, I came with three words: weapons, weapons, and weapons,” Kuleba recalled. “This time, while this request remains absolutely acute, I will specify it by saying that we need air defense, tanks and production lines.”
The Ukrainian minister said officials need to be realistic — and less reliant on fickle partners.
“We also have to face one fact: There are countries in the world who have what Ukraine needs but who are not going to sell it in sufficient quantities for political reasons,” he said. “Instead of counting on them and spending months on trying to convince them, production has to be launched so that … we do not fall dependent on the whims of the third countries who have stuff in stocks but who are not willing to share it…
We wasted too much time — and too many lives, and too many square kilometers of our land. So I think — I hope — that the wisdom will prevail, that everything should be done on time, and we should not wait for another tragedy to unfold in order for someone to be able to overcome the psychological barriers of making one or another decision about Ukraine,” Kuleba said.
Asked about those who would like to see Ukraine consider negotiating with Russia, the minister said reports of pressure are overstated. “I have to say that this notion of soft pressure on Ukraine is largely exaggerated,” Kuleba said. “I wouldn’t say it doesn’t exist, but it has not taken a form of — even of a soft pressure,” he said, adding: “I would call it just a discussion on what’s next, how are we going to handle it together.”
Kuleba also addressed Ukraine’s troubled relationship with its neighbor Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, he said, “is playing his own game with the European Union — and sometimes uses Ukraine as a hostage of that relationship.” And the minister sent a message to ordinary Hungarians: “Whatever you read in your official media, Ukrainians do not have any animosity towards Hungarians. “We were friends, we are friends, and we will be friends,” he said. “But we need to win this war, and it is in the best interest of Hungary that Ukraine wins.”