NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in Washington for meetings with top national security officials in the Biden administration to discuss defense assistance for Ukraine. Russia is preparing to launch new offensives in Ukraine, and any public hints at readiness to negotiate are deceptive, Stoltenberg told reporters during a visit to the State Department.
Ukraine live briefing: NATO chief in Washington; Zelensky arrives in Paris after London visit
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in France late Wednesday local time, for the second leg of his surprise Europe tour. The visit to Paris, where Zelensky is dining with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday night, comes after a whirlwind trip to London.
“Russia cannot and must not win this war,” Macron said at a joint news conference with Scholz and Zelensky at the Élysée Palace. “As long as Russia continues to attack, we will continue to adapt and moderate the necessary military support to preserve Ukraine and its future.”
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
1. Stoltenberg in Washington
- Stoltenberg was meeting with senior Biden administration officials in Washington on Wednesday, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. “We must continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to retake territory and prevail as a sovereign independent nation,” Stoltenberg said at the State Department.
- He was expected to meet with members of Congress to discuss “support for Ukraine’s self-defense against Russia’s aggression,” a NATO official said. Ukraine is a partner, but not a member, of NATO — while Finland and Sweden have applied to join the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
2. Zelensky in London and Paris
- In a speech to Britain’s Parliament, Zelensky made a fresh appeal for military aircraft. “I will leave Parliament thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes,” he said to laughter and applause. Standing with Zelensky in front of a tank at a military base in Dorset, where the British military is training Ukrainian troops, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to Ukraine’s requests for fighter jets.
- Responding to Zelensky’s visit Wednesday, the Russian Embassy in Moscow warned Britain against providing Ukraine with fighter jets. “In the event of such a scenario, the death toll of yet another round of escalation … will be on the United Kingdom’s hands,” the embassy said in a statement. “Russia will know how to respond to any unfriendly actions by the British side.”
- Zelensky also met with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon. In a statement, Zelensky said it was “an honor” to become the first Ukrainian president to have an audience with a British monarch.
🇬🇧🇺🇦The King welcomes President @ZelenskyyUa to Buckingham Palace. pic.twitter.com/cdcBUFkZIL— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) February 8, 2023
3. Global impact
- Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark will provide Ukraine with at least 100 Leopard 1A5 tanks along with training and logistics support, the nations’ defense ministers said in a statement. The announcement complements plans to deliver more-advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine by March. Germany also announced a new round of military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, including 32 Gepard self-propelled antiaircraft guns.
- E.U. sanctions against Russia “will continue” and “may even be enhanced,” Scholz told German lawmakers on Wednesday. “Ukraine belongs to Europe; its future lies in the European Union,” he said in a speech to Germany’s Bundestag, less than three weeks before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. “Putin will not achieve his goals — not on the battlefield and not through a dictated peace,” Scholz added. “This is clear after one year of this war.”
- President Biden reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, calling Russia’s invasion “a test for America” and the world. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, was present at the event, representing “not just her nation, but the courage of her people,” Biden said.
- Dutch prosecutors have linked the deaths of 298 people aboard a passenger plane that was shot down and Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Post has reported. Putin signed off on supplying antiaircraft missiles to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine before they downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014. Despite “strong indications” of Putin’s direct role, prosecutors said their evidence was “not concrete enough” for a new prosecution.
4. Battleground updates
- A new offensive by Russia is likely to include the northeastern region of Kharkiv and the southern Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine’s national security chief, Oleksiy Danilov, told Reuters on Tuesday. “How successful they’ll be will depend on us,” he said. A Russian offensive is expected by many as the first anniversary of the invasion approaches later this month.
- The Russian military may be rushing to launch an offensive to capture the Donetsk region “in an unrealistic timeframe,” the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War think tank said Tuesday. The institute said the Kremlin was unlikely to have the combat power necessary for the push, citing a British Defense Ministry assessment that said Russian forces have gained only several hundred meters of territory per week.
- The State Department has “made a determination approving” the potential sale of $10 billion in artillery rocket systems to Poland, a NATO ally that shares a border with Ukraine. If it goes through, the deal would include 18 HIMARS launchers and long-range ammunition that Kyiv has repeatedly requested but the United States has not provided out of concern that Russia could view it as a significant escalation of U.S. involvement.
5. From our correspondents
66,000 war crimes have been reported in Ukraine. It vows to prosecute them all: The number of alleged war crimes in Ukraine climbs every day, with investigators logging thousands of complaints, ranging from property theft to torture.
The numbers are staggering, Liz Sly reports, but the war in Ukraine represents an unparalleled opportunity to test the evolving international justice system that began to take shape after World War II.
As for Ukraine’s motivation, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said, “We have to win in both battles — in the fight for our territory and in the fight for justice.”
John Hudson and Karla Adam contributed to this report.