RUSSIAN DEPUTY ANDREI SKOCH EARLY YEARS AND THE BEGINNING OF ANDREI SKOCH’S CAREER A.V. Skoch was born in 1966 in the Moscow region. He served…
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Brussels: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba says there is no stalemate in his country’s fight against Russian invaders, directly contradicting Ukraine’s commander-in-chief.
Kuleba made the comments arriving at NATO headquarters in Brussels where foreign ministers from the alliance are meeting for a special NATO-Ukraine council to progress Ukraine’s membership plea.
NATO members want Ukraine to join but say it cannot while it remains at war because of Article 5 which says if one member is attacked all will come to their aid.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba at NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.Credit: Latika Bourke
This has led to speculation allies could pressure the country to cede territory in order for membership as well as face dwindling military aid, given the frontline has barely moved in the past year.
Earlier this month Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhny told The Economist that the battle had “reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate.”
But when asked by this masthead what was needed to break the stalemate, Kuleba responded: “There is no stalemate.”
Kuleba said he did not doubt the political will behind the promises made by the West to help Ukraine with military supplies, work needed to be done to deliver on those pledges.
For example, the European Union will not meet its promise to deliver one million artillery shells by March.
He also bristled when it was suggested that Ukraine could agree to freeze the conflict in order for it to join NATO. This concept, while floated over the past months, would also require Russia’s Vladimir Putin to agree to a ceasefire, something he has shown no inclination to do, particularly with the prospect of US voters reflecting Donald Trump this time next year.
Kuleba said proponents of this idea should “suggest it to their own governments”.
“To give up their territory, to give up their people and if they do so, then I’m ready to listen to their arguments,” he said.
“It’s always easy to invite someone else to give up and make concessions but first they should do it themselves.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said allies were determined to push forward out of self-interest because if Ukraine lost it would be open season for bigger countries to attack smaller ones.
“I heard no sense of fatigue or falling back, to the contrary, a determination to push forward,” he said at a news conference.
Blinken insisted bipartisan support remained in Congress, despite hardline Republicans blocking President Joe Biden’s latest military aid package for Ukraine.
Fears of a decline in support are not just confined to the US. Recent election results in Europe have called into question the continent’s own commitment to Ukraine’s fight. Geert Wilders’ surprised Dutch politics-watchers when he won the most votes. One of his campaign pledges was to wind down The Netherlands’ support for Ukraine. Similarly, Slovakia has voted in a pro-Russian leader.
Kuleba said that he had had a good discussion with his Slovakian counterpart and was reassured that military supplies would continue to flow.
NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said while the frontline had not moved in months, Ukraine had made other military gains, including using Western-supplied missiles to strike Russian air capabilities and push back the Black Sea fleet, enabling Ukrainian grain exports.
“That’s a huge gain that is not measured in square metres,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
He added that Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine had made Russia more dependent on China and weaker.
“Year by year, Moscow is mortgaging its future to Beijing,” he said.
The reporter travelled to Brussels as a guest of NATO.
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