Stoltenberg: more weapons on the way for Ukraine. Russia should not be underestimated

Brussels – The collaboration between NATO and the European Union continues and is strengthened, which today, Tuesday 10 January, signed a new cooperation agreement, the third in six years. The intent is to strengthen the transatlantic link in a very uncertain context, and while the Western allies are discussing whether and how to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons in its war against Russia and are preparing new sanctions, this time against Belarus.
The declaration of cooperation signed here in Brussels by NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the president of the European Council Charles Michel is the third after those of 2016 and 2018. In particular, the collaboration this time it will cover hybrid, cyber and terrorist attacks; the perturbations in the technological field; the risks of political instability linked to climate change.

Pressure from France on Germany

As mentioned, the signature came while the Twenty-Seven were discussing whether and how to supply Ukraine with even more lethal weapons. Among other things, France is pressuring Germany to supply Kiev with German-made Leopard tanks. For now, Berlin hesitates. “Ukraine must receive all the military equipment it needs to defend its territory,” said President von der Leyen instead. In this regard, the NATO secretary general announced that “talks with the Ukrainians are scheduled for next week to see what types of weapons are needed and who among the allies can supply them” (Washington reflects on the hypothesis of sending Stryker armored vehicles) . She then added: «Russia has suffered heavy losses, but she should not be underestimated. They are mobilizing more troops and equipment (…) We must be ready to support Ukraine in the long term».

New EU sanctions against Belarus

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference here in Brussels, President von der Leyen announced new sanctions against Belarus, accused of complicity with Russia in the war against Ukraine: “We will keep the pressure on the Kremlin for as long as necessary ( …) And we will extend the sanctions measures to those who militarily support Russia’s war, such as Belarus or Iran”. For now, no details are leaking out. Returning to EU/NATO collaboration, the new agreement comes as the European Union seeks to strengthen its strategic autonomy. Some observers may see a contradiction between this intent and cooperation with a US-led, if not dominated, military organization. “Strategic autonomy must be seen in addition to the alliance” with NATO, President Michel replied with a touch of embarrassment, recalling the efforts on the energy and technological front.

The accession of Sweden and Finland

Finally, the process of Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO is also on the table. Secretary General Stoltenberg said he was “confident” that Turkey will give its approval to Stockholm’s entry. In recent days, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson had said that his country could not commit itself further to Ankara, as long as it had his agreement: “It wants things that we cannot and do not want to give it”. Turkey calls for assurances in its fight against Kurdish terrorism.

Stoltenberg: more weapons on the way for Ukraine. Russia should not be underestimated