NATO denies pressuring Ukraine to negotiate with Putin

Amid growing dismay over bad news from the Ukrainian battlefield, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said , He wanted to breathe some optimism. In a press conference ahead of the meeting of foreign ministers that will take place in Brussels this Wednesday and Thursday, the Norwegian politician pointed out that although the front has hardly moved in recent months, “We are seeing high casualties and some of the fiercest fighting of the entire war.”

In recent months, doubts have increased about the continuity of Western support for Kiev. Faced with a much slower offensive by the Ukrainian army than expected; the outbreak of conflict between Israel and Hamas; The opposition of the Republican Party in the United States to further arming Ukraine and some divisions between European partners suggest certain information suggests that the government of Volodimir Zelenskyj would be under pressure to start negotiations with Vladimir Putin as quickly as possible, which would mean that the reconquest of all land occupied by the Russian army would have to be abandoned.

Diplomatic sources deny this alleged pressure and assure that it is up to Kiev to make this decision. The Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, James O’BrienHe denied to journalists that the US position had changed. “We have always said that it is a question that Ukraine must decide”declares before the Secretary of State of the United States, Anthony BlinkenHe moves to Brussels. It will be the first time that a ministerial meeting will take place in the new NATO-Ukraine format.

To show that Ukraine’s war strategy is a long-distance race and that we must not fall into defeatism, Stoltenberg also recalled that half of the occupied territories have already been recaptured “We must also recognize that Ukraine has achieved great victories” while “Russia is becoming increasingly isolated politically and weakening economically and militarily. So overall we have seen major defeats for Russia. They have not achieved their strategic goal of controlling Ukraine and the Ukrainians have achieved a lot. Once again it is up to Ukraine to decide. Our responsibility is to put them in the best possible position. “That’s why I appreciate the continued support of NATO allies.”

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It’s not just about continuing to supply weapons. The heads of state and government of the 27 member states are expected to discuss the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the bloc and a plan at the European summit on December 14 and 15 50,000 million euros between loans and grants to help rebuild the country over the next four years. There are fears that the country’s economy will collapse if an agreement is not reached before March. Hungary has threatened to veto these two proposals and Council President Charles Michel traveled to Budapest this Monday to resolve differences with the Prime Minister. Viktor Orban. It was an appointment without press conferences and little information was revealed. The Hungarian president sent a letter to Michel calling for a strategic discussion on Ukraine before making other decisions on economic aid, further sanctions or accession talks. Relations between Budapest and Hungary have been turbulent for years and everything indicates that Orban wants to make the lifting of his veto dependent on Brussels lifting the blockade 13 billion euros for Hungary are currently blocked until the country implements reforms regarding respect for the rule of law.

According to diplomatic sources, the meeting between Orban and Michel lasted about two hours and included “substantial discussions” about the Hungarian president’s letter and the “global geopolitical context.” In addition, the two heads of state and government agreed to maintain contact.

Although Orban finally gave up his support for Ukraine after making slight concessions in these months, everything could now change. It counts Slovakia among its allies after the pro-Russian Robert Fico came to power and it is unknown whether it will have new friends in the European Council in the near future. Brussels views the far-right leader’s victory with concern Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, who defended the end of aid to Kiev during the election campaign. Still, negotiations to form a governing coalition are expected to take months and the country could break its own record of 271 days. Therefore, a sudden change in the Dutch stance towards Ukraine is not expected in the coming months.

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