The bloc should brace itself for a “longer conflict” between Moscow and Kiev, its top diplomat says
There is no victory in sight for Ukraine in the conflict with Russia, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday. He added that the bloc must be ready to support Kiev for an extended period, and potentially substitute US military aid if it wants to stop Moscow from prevailing.
Delivering a video address to the Congress of the Party of European Socialists (PES) in Malaga, Spain, Borrell declared that the Ukraine conflict “is lasting much too long,” while admitting that Kiev would not be able to face the Russian military without Western support.
EU nations that have “the necessary means to help” should also have the political will to continue to support the bloc’s Ukraine aid policy, and potentially even expand it, Borrell stated. The diplomat also cautioned that the EU may even need to step in to replace US aid, should it diminish.
Although the EU and its members have spent almost twice as much as the US on total military, financial, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Washington remains Kiev’s single largest military sponsor by a wide margin, according to Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
The US alone has spent around $45 billion on military aid for Ukraine, followed by Germany with $18.2 billion, data showed. However, the Pentagon warned earlier this week that it potentially had only $1 billion remaining for Ukraine military aid, and would have to ration arms packages from now on.
In his address on Saturday, Borrell insisted that “we must remain united and get ready for a longer conflict, longer than Russia thought.” He claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had expected to end the conflict in “a few weeks,” but had been unsuccessful.
Moscow reacted to Borrell’s remarks by pointing to his apparent change in tone. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted in a Telegram post that the EU foreign policy chief had declared following a visit to Kiev in April 2022 that “this war will be won on the battlefield.” He now says Ukraine will not be able to defeat Russia in the near future, Zakharova added, wondering if the EU was leaning towards considering Moscow as the victor in the standoff.
Borrell himself, however, said during the PES congress in Malaga that the conflict should be one “that Russia will never be able to win.”
Recent reports have indicated growing concern among Kiev’s Western backers about the outcome of the fighting. On Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg claimed that a Russian victory would be a “tragedy” that would leave the US-led bloc “vulnerable.” He also insisted it was in NATO’s interests to continue supporting Kiev.