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5 Oct, 2023 00:16

Ukraine ‘very cheap way’ to fight Russia, NATO state claims

The Dutch defense minister made a case for funding Kiev at a conference in Poland
Ukraine ‘very cheap way’ to fight Russia, NATO state claims

Arming Kiev is a cost-effective way of preventing Moscow from threatening NATO, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Wednesday at the Warsaw Security Forum.

Ollongren was asked whether the US and its allies can continue supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” given the political in-fighting in Washington. 

“We cannot pretend that we’ll just wait and see how the American elections are going,” she said. “Because they have the same interest, in a way. Of course, supporting Ukraine is a very cheap way to make sure that Russia with this regime is not a threat to the NATO alliance. And it’s vital to continue that support.”

“It is very much in our interest to support Ukraine, because they are fighting this war, we are not fighting it,” Ollongren noted, while admitting that NATO has “skin in the game.”

Ollongren explained that she had recently visited the US and that political developments there are cause for concern, but that Western Europeans need to talk with their American colleagues and persuade them to stay the course.

“I think that we are capable of a lot, and we have proven that in the past year and a half, and the only thing we have to do is keep it up,” the minister said, adding that the scale of military assistance to Kiev has surprised Ukraine, Russia, and even NATO itself.

The US and its allies have channeled a large amount of money, weapons, ammunition, and supplies to Ukraine since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell revealed earlier this week that the bloc has sent Ukraine €85 billion ($89.8 billion) so far, of which more than €25 billion was military aid.

The most recent estimates of US spending were from the end of July, and amounted to $46.6 billion in military aid, $3.9 billion in humanitarian aid, and $26.4 billion in loans and cash payments to keep the government in Kiev going.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that the deliveries of heavy weapons and other aid are tantamount to direct involvement in the hostilities. Washington and Brussels, however, insist they are not actually a party to the conflict. Russia has said that foreign weapons will not change the course of the fighting and will not deter Moscow from achieving its goals in Ukraine. 

Russian officials have cited NATO’s expansion eastward as one of the root causes of its conflict with Ukraine and the standoff with the West.