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“We must win the winter battle against terror,” says Zelenskyy at Brussels NATO meetings

During his trip to Brussels on 11 October, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy met with the Belgian PM, defense leaders of the US and other allied nations, and secured significant military and financial backing from allies.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on 11 October, 2023, in Brussels, before the meetings at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance. Source: president.gov.ua
“We must win the winter battle against terror,” says Zelenskyy at Brussels NATO meetings

On 11 October, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and the new US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Brown in Belgium to discuss military assistance essential for Ukraine amid Russian missile and drone attacks.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on 11 October, 2023, in Brussels, before the meetings at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance. Source: president.gov.ua
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on 11 October 2023, in Brussels, before the meetings at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance. Source: president.gov.ua

$200 mn US aid package for Ukraine

Before the meeting in Brussels, the US Department of Defense announced a fresh security aid package “to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs.” The package, worth $200 million, marks the Biden Administration’s 48th tranche of such assistance since August 2021.

This assistance for Ukraine includes additional air defense capabilities, anti-tank and anti-drone weapons, electronic warfare equipment, ammunition for HIMARS and artillery, and other equipment to help Ukraine counter Russia’s ongoing war of aggression.

“Winter is a big challenge. We really need the help of our partners to protect critical infrastructure. Air defense is not just a military issue. Normal life depends on it, how the economy will work, how taxes will be paid to meet the needs of the army, and our defense against Russian aggression. It also determines how many people will return to Ukraine from abroad,” the Ukrainian president said.

At the meeting, Austin assured that the US would continue to supply all necessary weapons to Ukraine, and has the necessary resources and capabilities to support Ukraine.

Today, Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance also announced the state budget received a grant of $1.15 billion from the United States through the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

The funds are part of the fifth additional aid package under the World Bank’s Public Expenditure Support for Enhanced Accountability and Sustainable Governance in Ukraine (PEACE) project.

Earlier, two US officials said the Biden administration was considering using a State Department grant program to send additional military assistance to Ukraine amid a battle over weapons funding in Congress.

Zelenskyy joins NATO and Ramstein Group meetings

During the working visit to Belgium, Zelenskyy joined the meetings of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group also known as the Ramstein Group, the NATO-Ukraine Council, and the NATO defense ministers of more than 50 defense leaders from around the world.

“The counteroffensive is progressing. It was never going to be easy. The battlefield is heavily mined; the Russians have dug in for months. But the Ukrainians are moving forward. They are regaining ground and Russia is losing ground,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the press conference ahead of the meeting of ministers of the Alliance, as per UkrInform.

Stoltenberg stressed Ukraine can count on NATO’s continued support to prevail “as an independent democratic state and to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic family, where Ukraine rightfully belongs. We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

“What we are seeing now is that President Putin is preparing once again to use winter as a weapon of war, meaning attacking the energy system, the gas infrastructure. We need to prevent that and with more advanced and increased capabilities for air defense, we can make a big difference,” he added.

During the meeting with NATO Secretary General, Zelenskyy said Ukraine will continue cooperation with NATO on its program to implement principles and standards of the Alliance in the country.

Zelenskyy compares HAMAS atrocities to Russia’s

Before his meetings in Brussels, the Ukrainian president urged the world to support the people harmed during the terrorist offensive of the Palestinian militant group Hamas against Israel.

“I remember the first days of the full-scale war. It started with terrorist attacks from Belarus, and then the Russian army came. It was the biggest tragedy for us. So many dead people, so many deaths. And it was very important not to be left alone. It can help save your nation, people, save lives. So my recommendation to the leaders is to go to Israel and support the people. I’m not talking about any institutions now. Just support people who suffered from terrorist attacks and are dying,” Zelenskyy stated.

The Ukrainian president also urged the world to end “Moscow’s ambitions,” which “ have never been limited to Ukraine.”

“We need to get the instrument of terror out of Russia’s hands.”

“I know that NATO is ready and capable of protecting its members from external aggression.

Russia cannot handle this war on its own. It needs Iran – Russia cannot succeed without the Shaheds and other help. But at the same time, it still has enough resources to incite conflicts and turn them into full-scale tragedies.

This is happening in the Sahel, and it can happen even more painfully in Israel and in the Middle East as a whole. We must not allow this to happen,” he said at the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in the Ramstein format.

Zelenskyy compared the tactics of Hamas to those used by Russia in Ukraine.

“Last winter, Russia wanted to turn it into a weapon against us by destroying our power plants and supply network. Please note that even during the attack on Israel, terrorists targeted one of the largest power plants in the region. Until last winter, when Russia relied on these tactics, other terrorists had not done so in such attacks. We must win the winter battle against terror. We can win it.

Terrorists like Putin or Hamas seek to hold free and democratic nations as hostages. And they want power over those who seek freedom. The terrorists will not change,” the Ukrainian president added.

More aid: air defense, Russian assets revenue, Belgian F-16s

Among the main results of the meetings in Brussels, according to Zelenskyy, were agreements to strengthen Ukraine’s army and air defense.

“We have a very good package of agreements with the Belgian side to reinforce our army. I am grateful for this. First of all, you know, in the run-up to winter, the most important things are everything related to the protection of the sky and energy infrastructure. Air defense and everything that a partner can help us with is a priority today.

We have relevant positive steps from the Belgian government,” he said after the negotiations with Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo.

Zelenskyy also noted that during the Ramstein meetings with all partners, the current needs of Ukraine were discussed.

“They know the priorities, they are working on them. We have raised the issue of the very tense situation in Israel and how it might affect us. Our partners assure us that Ukraine will still receive assistance. We believe our partners,” the president added.

After the meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Alexander De Croo confirmed that Belgium would invest €1.7 billion in Ukraine in 2024 sourced from tax revenue generated from frozen Russian assets.

Most of the frozen Russian central bank assets, amounting to over €200 billion, are currently held in Europe, with a significant portion managed by Euroclear SA in Belgium. Under Belgian law, these proceeds are subject to a 25% corporate tax. Belgium also seeks to ban Russian diamonds from its markets.

In addition, today, the Defense Minister of Belgium, Ludivine Dedonder, said Brussels would supply Ukraine with “several” F-16 fighter jets starting in 2025. The minister noted that the amount of Belgian F-16 fighter bombers that would be sent to Ukraine would “depend on the ramp-up of our (Belgian) new F-35 capability.”

Ludivine Dedonder also announced that Belgium would continue its pilot training efforts and offer to take charge of maintenance for the coalition’s entire F-16 fleet.

The announcement came after a telephone call between Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov and Ludivine Dedonder on 10 October.

“We discussed the provision of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine and the training of our pilots. We also synchronized our positions in the Ramstein format and the NATO-Ukraine Council before the upcoming meeting,” Rustem Umerov said.

According to Ukraine’s Air Force Command, western fighter jets like the F-16 can reshape the dynamics on the battlefield, as aerial cover is paramount for ground operations.

Additionally, the UK Ministry of Defense reported that the British Defense Secretary planned to announce a new support package for Ukraine and sign further air defense contracts procured through the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU).

The new military aid package, worth over £100m ($122 million), will help Ukraine’s Armed Forces clear minefields, maintain its vehicles, and shore up defensive fortifications to protect critical national infrastructure.

Also, at the 16th Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Brussels, the Canadian Minister of National Defence, Bill Blair, announced a new aid package for Ukraine worth 25 million Canadian dollars ($19 million).

The winter aid support includes clothing and equipment, particularly boots, thermal layers, and winter sleeping bags. This also includes patterned military uniforms for 2,000 female Ukraine’s Armed Forces soldiers, which will be manufactured in Canada.

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