Nearly 50 European Leaders Stress Support for Ukraine at Summit in Spain

Almost 50 European leaders used a summit in the southern Spanish city of Granada on Thursday to stress that they stand by Ukraine at a time when Western resolve appears weakened. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that besides maintaining such unity, more military aid to get through the winter was essential.

Despite the political, economic and military support, the desperate struggle to rid Ukraine territory of invading Russian forces has ground to a stalemate, and Zelenskyy insisted that it was no time for wavering in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin – especially now that questions about continued support are growing in the United States, too.

“Europe must be strong” despite what happens in other places like the United States, Zelenskyy said, calling on the leaders to provide for more air defense systems, artillery shells, long-range missiles and drones.

He said that victory or defeat in Ukraine would determine the fate of all of Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron seized upon the view and insisted that even if U.S. President Joe Biden had this week reassured everyone that Washington’s commitment remained strong, it was first and foremost for Europe to act.

“Even if we are lucky to have such a committed American partner, we ourselves have to be totally committed, because this is in our immediate neighborhood,” Macron said.

Yet, even if the European Union promised Thursday to continue its support for Kyiv, it could never replace Washington’s contribution if funds were to dry up there, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said. “Certainly we can do more. But the U.S. is something irreplaceable for the support of Ukraine.”

That was a worry lingering over the third meeting of the European Political Community forum, which was formed in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that drastically reset the continent’s political agenda and fundamentally undermined long-held beliefs on peace and stability on the continent.

Support from Europe has become all the more important after the U.S. Congress hastily sent Biden legislation over the weekend that kept the federal government funded, but left off billions in funding for Ukraine’s war effort that the White House had vigorously backed.

Biden called other world powers on Tuesday to coordinate on Ukraine in a deliberate show of U.S. support at a time when the future of its aid is questioned by an important faction of Republicans who want to cut off money to Kyiv.

“Everybody is looking at the situation with obviously a lot of vigilance,” said Macron.

Europe, too, has to deal with its doubters.

Last weekend’s election in Slovakia, where pro-Russia candidate Robert Fico was the big winner, and Hungary’s continued recalcitrance to fully back Ukraine have cast increasing shadows on Europe’s commitment. That counts especially for the European Union, where many decisions on Ukraine need unanimity among the bloc’s 27 members.

In Slovakia early this week, the president refused a plan by her country’s caretaker government to send further military aid to Ukraine, saying it doesn’t have the authority and parties that oppose such support are in talks to form a government following last week’s election.

“The main challenge that we have,” Zelenskyy said, “is to save unity in Europe.”

On Thursday, though, the overall mood was supportive. Like most leaders, summit host and Spanish caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stood firmly behind Ukraine and offered Zelenskyy a new package of anti-aircraft and anti-drone systems and training for Ukrainian soldiers to use them.

And Zelenskyy said after meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Berlin “is working on” providing Ukraine with another Patriot air defense system, to be operational within months.

Zelenskyy insisted that Putin’s attempts to divide the West would not cease.

“Russia will attack by information, disinformation, by fakes, et cetera,” he said.

Talks were held just as news came in of a Russian rocket striking a village cafe and store in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 51 civilians, in one of the deadliest attacks in the war in months.

The contrast could hardly be greater when the leaders attended a royal dinner hosted by Spain’s King Felipe VI at Granada’s famed Moorish Alhambra Palace, with its refined halls and gardens known for their fountains and decorative pools.

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