NATO on Thursday pledged fresh military aid to Ukraine and sent reinforcements to its eastern flank, while the US and UK imposed new sanctions on Russia in a show of Western unity. facing the war in Ukraine.
The member countries of the Transatlantic Alliance have also agreed to help Ukraine protect itself against possible chemical, biological or nuclear attacks. Three summits organized by the West in Brussels – NATO, G7 and the European Union – have, however, undoubtedly not lived up to the expectations of Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky, who is seeking military assistance and sanctions against Moscow much more substantial, a month after the invasion of his country by Russian forces.
The European Union remains divided on whether to sever all its energy ties with Russia, with Germany continuing to oppose an immediate embargo on the hydrocarbons delivered by Moscow on which it is closely dependent.
With Russia supplying around 40% of Europe’s gas needs, this issue has become even more thorny for the EU since Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that “unfriendly” countries pay in rubles for gas deliveries. Several leaders of the Twenty-Seven have said that they consider this request to be contrary to the supply contracts and rule out the possibility of making payments in rubles.
“The red line of barbarism”
The offensive launched by Moscow in Ukraine has caused the death of thousands of people and the exodus of a quarter of the Ukrainian population. Russian army shelling hit residential areas, schools and hospitals. Russia denies targeting civilians. “Putin has already crossed the red line of barbarism,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose government announced new sanctions against Russian companies and personalities, as did the United States and Canada.
NATO fears chemical attacks
In a joint statement, NATO leaders reaffirmed their “unity” and “determination” to oppose “Russian aggression” as well as to come to the aid of Ukraine and to defend the security of their allies. Washington and its allies have begun discussing the delivery of anti-ship missiles that could help Ukraine loosen Russia’s grip around Black Sea ports.
“We have decided to intensify work to prevent escalation scenarios (and to) continue to provide weapons, defensive and lethal but with a red line that continues not to be co-belligerent,” summed up French President Emmanuel Macron during a press conference.
NATO has also announced that it will provide Ukraine with protective equipment against chemical, biological and nuclear attacks and protect its forces deployed on the eastern flank.
The 27 Divided
On behalf of the 27 members of the European Union, who were to meet in the evening, Latvia called for a ban on imports of Russian energy products, “to prevent money from entering Russian war chests”. “We have to stop Putin.
Because if we don’t stop him, Putin won’t stop,” said Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Karins. But the community bloc is far from unanimous on this issue.
Luxembourg said the EU should keep sanctions in reserve in the event of further aggravation of the situation and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte indicated that no new sanction would be decided this Thursday at European level. For the time being, the EU has decided to gradually reduce its energy dependence on Russia, but the hydrocarbon sector is relatively protected by the massive economic sanctions imposed by the West since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
However, an agreement has been reached for the United States to deliver more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe via the United Kingdom. The Twenty-Seven are also struggling to apply the sanctions already adopted against Moscow, in particular against the oligarchs whose fortunes remain largely intact four weeks after the start of the assault by Russian forces, which killed thousands and caused more than 3 .5 million people to flee the country, according to UN data.
Summits and need for help
Russia presents its offensive as a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “denazifying” Ukraine. This day of meetings in Brussels under the sign of Western unity began early in the morning at the headquarters of the Atlantic Alliance, meeting in an extraordinary summit, during which Volodimir Zelensky intervened by video message to demand more military aid. .
NATO has decided to send reinforcements to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, which will bring to eight the number of multinational battalions deployed on the eastern flank of the Alliance. She also warned China against any military or economic support for the Russian war effort.
The G7 and the EU – which will hold a summit with China on April 1 – also signaled that any transactions involving gold reserves from Russia would be subject to sanctions, in a bid to prevent Moscow from circumventing punitive measures. against him.
For Macron, China can only be a power of moderation
At a press conference in Brussels, where a NATO summit and a G7 meeting took place before a European Council in the evening, the French president said he heard in Xi Jinping, during his recent meeting with his Chinese counterpart, “a leader who shared our concerns and disapproves of war”.
“China, as a member of the United Nations Security Council and as a great power, cannot do anything but be a power of mediation and moderation and help us to convince Russia to stop this war. , do not help or participate in anything, ever, and ensure that all powers return to reason and stability,” he said.
“I want to believe that China will be consistent with its vision of territorial sovereignty and will continue to seek to stop this war and I want to believe that China will not participate in any form of escalation,” added Emmanuel Macron.