NATO meets to push further supply of weapons to Ukraine, Russia raises concerns 

Russia has been warning that the West’s military supplies to Ukraine will only prolong the war in the country, and may cause grave consequences. Russia has repeatedly accused NATO of fighting a proxy war against it at the cost of the Ukrainian people  

June 16, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Russia-Ukraine Conflict
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

It has been close to 115 days since the war began in Ukraine. However, instead of trying to resolve the conflict by pushing both the countries towards negotiations, the US is repeatedly giving calls to its allies to increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine.

On Wednesday, June 15, US Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin hosted a meeting of the NATO Defense Ministers, the so-called Contact Group on Ukraine, in Brussels, primarily to discuss the issue of supply of military aid to Ukraine.   

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had declared on Tuesday that Ukraine must get more weapons. He made this statement while meeting Prime Ministers of some of the NATO member countries in Hague ahead of NATO’s scheduled summit at the end of the month.   

Apart from imposing various rounds of economic and political sanctions against Russia, US and other NATO members have been supplying weapons to Ukraine. Russia has accused the US and NATO of fighting a proxy war at the cost of the Ukrainians. 

Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the US, criticized the US decision to supply HIMRAS long-range missile systems to Ukraine, despite concerns of its possible use to attack Russia. He called the move escalatory and claimed that “this only confirms that Americans have no aspirations for a peaceful settlement” of the conflict.  

HIMRAS has a range of 77 kilometers and Russia claims that it can be used to launch attack inside its borders. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly complained about inadequate supply of weapons to his country. His government has claimed that most of the pledges made by Western powers for arms supply to Ukraine have failed to materialize. Repeating the calls for more weapons, several members of his government urged the West for more anti-missiles systems, artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons to face the Russian challenge.  

In April, Russia had sent a formal diplomatic note to the US warning that arms supplies to Ukraine are adding fuel to the fire and may lead to unpredictable consequences. It urged the US and the EU to “stop irresponsible militarization of Ukraine.” 

West wants Russia to lose the war

Talks to resolve the conflict have been halted since March under Western pressure. Several of the Western leaders have even said that the talks are premature and that they want to see Russia lose the war. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a meeting with the NATO chief reiterated the West’s position on the Ukrainian war. He said that since the West cannot afford to start a direct confrontation with Russia, it is bound to provide military assistance to Ukraine because “it is crucial for Russia to lose the war.”

On Tuesday, Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl said that Ukrainian forces are trained to use the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMRAS) and that “we are committed to continuing the flow of those munitions.”  

Kahl also said that the US’ objective for sending military aid to Ukraine is to “impose a cost on Russia in excess to whatever benefits Vladimir Putin hopes to achieve through this conflict.” 

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden had signed off on a USD 700 million package to provide military aid to Ukraine. The US has already supplied weapons worth close to USD 5 billion to Ukraine since the beginning of the war in February. 

Meanwhile, Russian forces claimed on Tuesday that the Ukrainian forces in Donbass had held hundreds of civilians hostage in the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk during the ongoing battle in the region. 

Russia asked the Ukrainian forces to surrender, saying that their defense is meaningless. It also proposed the opening of a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the safe evacuation of civilians from the war zone.  

Russia started its “special operation” in Ukraine on February 24 after accusing its government of failing to implement the provisions of the Minsk Agreement signed in 2014, which had provided for autonomy to the country’s Russian speaking population that mostly lives in the Donbass region. 

Russia had also wanted Ukraine to pledge “neutrality” and never join NATO, claiming that such a move would pose a security threat to Russia. Ukraine and NATO had refused to entertain the Russian demands.