The Ukrainian president says the Russian invasion was ‘a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe’.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked NATO leaders for modern weapons and funds to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, warning the fighting could spill beyond its borders and into their countries.
Zelenskyy addressed the 30 leaders of the bloc on Wednesday via video link as they gathered for a crucial summit in Spain’s capital, Madrid, where they were set to lay out the alliance’s 10-year strategic framework and launch the largest revamp of its defense and deterrence capabilities since the end of the Cold War.
He framed the fight as “a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe – for what the future world order will be like”.
“The question is – who is next for Russia? Moldova? The Baltic States? Poland? The answer is all of them,” Zelenskyy told the summit. “We need to break the Russian artillery advantage … We need much more modern systems, modern artillery.”
Ukrainian officials have continually appealed for more firepower as the Russian invasion, which began on February 24, has refocused on the eastern Donbas region.
Zelenskyy added that financial support was “no less important than aid with weapons”, saying Kyiv needs about $5bn a month for its defence.
“Russia still receives billions every day and spends them on war,” he said, referring to the revenue Moscow generates via fossil fuel sales. “We have a multibillion-dollar deficit, we don’t have oil and gas to cover it,” Zelenskyy added.
His comments came after the Group of Seven (G7) leaders, composed of the world’s wealthiest democracies, pledged earlier in the week to further isolate Russia economically. G7 and NATO countries have poured billions of dollars in weapons and funds into Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.
Western countries have also imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Moscow. The United States and Canada, which are far less reliant on Russia as an energy supplier than Europe, have banned all Russian oil imports. The European Union, however, has only introduced a gradual oil embargo as part of its sanctions on Moscow, although G7 leaders said on Wednesday they had agreed to explore a price cap on Russian oil.
Zelenskyy called for further sanctions against Russia “that will stop its ability to pay for the war”.
He spoke after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said the bloc faced its “most serious security crisis” since World War II, saying Russia “poses a direct threat” to the alliance.
That came as US President Joe Biden announced Washington would boost its force posture in Europe, including establishing a permanent base in Poland, two more navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and two more F-35 squadrons to the United Kingdom.
On Tuesday, Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland’s ascension to NATO, clearing the way for the Nordic countries to join the bloc.