In an address at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized that Russia cannot sustain a new arms race.
Brussels, October 11, 2023 – In a pivotal address at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting held at NATO HQ in Brussels, President Volodymyr Zelensky made a resounding statement that reverberated not only in the hall but around the world. Zelensky emphasized that Russia, despite its vast military might, cannot afford to embark on a new arms race, underlining the immense economic toll such an endeavor would take.
The Ukrainian president’s presence at the meeting marked a historic moment, his first in-person participation in the Ramstein Group. He began by reminding the world that Russia’s ambitions have always exceeded the borders of Ukraine, an assertion that carried a weighty truth in light of recent events.
“We all know that Moscow’s ambitions have never been limited to Ukraine,” Zelensky declared, setting the stage for a speech that was both a call for justice and a plea for peace.
Continuing his address, Zelensky underscored the urgency of defeating these ambitions within Ukraine’s borders. “We all want these ambitions to be defeated in Ukraine – as soon as possible, this is the best opportunity – so that we don’t have to look for shells and supply tanks to other countries in Europe, Asia, or Africa that the Russian dictator may try to turn into ruins or seize into his crazy empire or zone of influence,” he declared. It was a stark reminder of the stakes involved in Ukraine’s fight for its sovereignty.
Zelensky went on to outline three fundamental elements that he saw as essential for expediting a just end to the ongoing conflict. He emphasized the need for “a just end,” which encapsulated the full protection of Ukraine’s sovereignty, the complete restoration of territorial integrity, and the assurance of Ukraine’s security post-aggression. These three pillars, according to Zelensky, formed the bedrock of a lasting peace in Ukraine.
Crucially, Zelensky acknowledged that it wasn’t just Ukrainian resolve but also international support that would determine the course of events. Despite ongoing attempts by occupiers to breach Ukrainian positions and the formidable challenges of defense and counteroffensive, he firmly believed that it was Ukraine and its valiant soldiers who were the architects of the situation on the ground. He asserted, “Russia cannot handle this war on its own.”
For Zelensky, a significant piece of the puzzle in ending the war was air defense. He stressed the importance of protecting the skies and how it directly translated into ensuring normalcy in cities, economic stability, and the well-being of people. Moreover, long-range air defense held the potential to secure Ukrainian corridors in the Black Sea and Danube regions, thereby preventing Russian jets from approaching the nation’s borders and negating the threat of Russia’s guided weaponry.
“This is the push we need now – a stride forward in our defense, particularly in air defense. For Ukraine, this equates to a victory of life; it’s nothing short of vital. For Russia, it would signify a setback in its central strategy – the strategy of terror,” Zelensky underscored.
Zelensky’s vision extended beyond the battlefield. He spoke of a desire for children to attend school in person, not via online education, and for people to lead lives that revolved around their plans for days, weeks, and even months. He painted a picture of a future where the majority of Ukrainians who had sought refuge abroad could return to their homeland, rebuilding their lives in a nation at peace.
The Ukrainian president called for a decisive victory in the “winter battle against terror.” He firmly believed that such a victory was attainable, and along with it, Ukraine could determine the conditions and terms under which the war would conclude. Central to this vision was the removal of the instrument of terror from Russia’s grasp, with air defense and other critical weaponry playing a crucial role.
In his concluding remarks, Zelensky made an impassioned plea to the international community, emphasizing that their support was paramount. He noted the significance of allies, especially the United States, continuing to provide military aid to keep pressure on Russian forces.
As of now, the exact timing and extent of the US’s new aid to Kyiv remains uncertain. However, Zelensky pointed out that even without further action from Congress, the US government retained the authority to supply Ukraine with over $5 billion in military equipment from its existing stockpile. This, he argued, could be a game-changer in Ukraine’s quest for peace and security.