EU, US urge sustained support for Ukraine in war against Russia

European Commission chief warns West must not let up supplying Ukraine with weapons, money if it wants Kyiv to succeed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024 [Hannes P Albert/Pool via AFP]

The European Union and the United States have urged allies of Ukraine to keep up with their funding as the war with Russia nears the two-year mark, with no resolution to the fighting in sight.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised sustained US support for Ukraine in a meeting on Tuesday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy despite a row in the US Congress on approving new funding.

“We are determined to sustain our support for Ukraine and we’re working very closely with Congress in order to work to do that. I know our European colleagues will do the same thing,” Blinken told Zelenskyy at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Jake Sullivan, US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, joined the meeting and told Zelenskyy that the US and its allies were determined “to ensure that Russia fails and Ukraine wins”.

Zelenskyy thanked the Biden administration and the “bipartisan support” in the US Congress. “We really count on your support – continuing your huge support,” he said.

The Ukrainian leader, who had addressed the Switzerland forum by video link in the past two years, showed up in person, as he faces increasing war fatigue in EU capitals and the US.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned on Tuesday that the West must not let up supplying Ukraine with weapons and money if it wants Kyiv to succeed.

“Ukraine can prevail in this war but we must continue to empower their resistance,” she told business leaders at Davos.

“Ukrainians need predictable financing throughout 2024 and beyond. They need a sufficient and sustained supply of weapons to defend Ukraine and regain its rightful territory.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who also met Zelenskyy at the summit, said Ukraine “was closer to NATO than ever before”.

It will be seen as an encouraging sign for Ukraine, which has long sought to join the military alliance and begun developing a reform plan as part of its potential ascension.

Stoltenberg also said there is “cause for optimism” in Ukraine’s two-year battle against Russia, despite a “serious battlefield situation”.

Fighting ongoing

As world leaders gathered in Davos to discuss how to rein in wars and embrace artificial intelligence, a state of emergency was declared in the southern Russian city of Voronezh on Tuesday following a Ukrainian drone attack.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said five Ukrainian drones were destroyed by air defences over the Voronezh region.

Yelena Fedyainova, whose six-year-old son was injured in one of the attacks, said the drones first struck at about 2:30am on Tuesday (23:30 GMT, Monday) and blew out the window of her apartment.

“I grabbed the child – there were shards everywhere and smoke,” Fedyainova told journalists, the Reuters news agency reported. A girl was injured in the same attack, officials said.

Voronezh, a city of more than one million people, lies some 250km (155 miles) from the border with Ukraine. The city’s mayor, Vadim Kstenin, said a state of emergency had been declared in the area to deal with the effect of the attack.

Elena Fedianinova checks her apartment damaged in a reported drone attack in Voronezh, Russia
Elena Fedianinova checks her apartment damaged in a drone attack in Voronezh, Russia, January 16, 2024 [Reuters]

Meanwhile, authorities in the northeastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv urged residents of more than two dozen villages near the front line to evacuate, citing Russian attacks in the area.

Russian forces captured swaths of the region shortly after invading Ukraine in February 2022 and have kept up efforts to wrest the region despite losing ground there.

“Given the security situation, we are introducing mandatory evacuation of the population from the Kindrashivska and Kurylivska communities of the Kupyansk district,” the Kharkiv regional governor announced on social media.

Governor Oleg Synegubov said the order would affect some 3,043 people in the settlements, including 279 children.

Ukraine routinely orders civilians to evacuate from towns and villages under Russian attack but does not always enforce the orders.

Source: News Agencies