Riga, Dec 19 (EFE).- Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday addressed the meeting of the 10-nation Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) in Riga by video link to present a list of military requirements to sustain and expand Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion in coming months and into the next year.
“To a large extent it depends on you when and how this war will end. And everything is very specific. The more successful our Defense Forces are, the sooner Russian aggression will fail. Winter is now a really crucial time,” the Ukrainian leader told members of the JEF gathered in the Latvian capital.
Founded in 2015, the format brings together Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia,
Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and is designed to respond rapidly to crises in the High North and Northern Europe.
Zelenskyy’s requests for additional and continued support from allied nations centered around defense systems, artillery and ammunition.
The Ukrainian president individually addressed each of the national representatives taking part in the meeting.
He thanked Norway’s prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre for supplying units of the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) to Ukraine but asked Dutch defense minister Kajsa Ollongren to resolve the issue of supplying modern tanks and armored vehicles.
“There is no explanation as to why Ukraine has not received a decision to supply modern effective tanks, in particular (German built) Leopards,” he said.
From Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristofersson, he requested modern howitzer and air defense systems.
Zelenskyy described Lithuania as “one of the very first countries to start helping us, even before the start of the full-scale invasion” and appealed to president Gitanas Nauseda to push for more deliveries of man-portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles into the next year.
He asked both Latvia’s prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas to continue delivering artillery ammunition and spare parts, especially 155 mm artillery shells.
Zelenskyy’s speech came after United Kingdom prime minister Rishi Sunak announced a more than $300 million package of new military aid to Ukraine, mainly the continued supply of artillery shells in 2023.
Speaking at the opening of the JEF meeting, which then continued behind closed doors after Zelenskyy’s video address, Sunak said that “(Russian president Vladimir) Putin is realizing that he cannot win on the battlefield.”
“As a result, he is escalating the conflict that is bringing about appalling consequences for the people of Ukraine,” Sunak said, referring to what he had seen on a recent visit to the war-torn country.
Several high-ranking officials attending the JEF meeting said in response to media questions that they disagreed with French president Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Russia be given “security guarantees” as part of any settlement of the war.
In an indirect reference to Macron’s remarks, Kariņš said “it is up to Ukraine to tell us what they need and when they need it, not the other way around.”
Sunak also said that “any call for a unilateral ceasefire is meaningless,” adding that “until (Russia has) withdrawn from conquered territory, there can be no negotiation.”EFE