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25 Feb, 2024 20:59

Ukraine conflict may be decided in ‘months’ – Borrell

Kiev’s fate depends on continued Western funding, the EU’s top diplomat has warned
Ukraine conflict may be decided in ‘months’ – Borrell

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned Ukraine's Western backers that “in the coming months the war may be decided.” To avoid defeat, Borrell claimed, EU member states must send more cash and weapons to Kiev.

Asked by Spain’s El Pais newspaper who was “winning” in Ukraine, Borrell said that Russia “has not won the war, but they have not yet lost it.” However, the newspaper pointed out that according to Western intelligence reports, “Russia has prepared well, and Ukraine is losing ground.”

“We have to do more, and quickly,” Borrell said. “In the coming months the war may be decided.”

Borrell’s interview with El Pais was published on Saturday, a week after Russia announced the liberation of the key Donbass town of Avdeevka. In the days since, Russian forces have driven the Ukrainian military from the settlements of Krynki, Pobeda, Severne, Lastochkino, Severnoe, and Rabotino, according to updates from the Russian Defense Ministry and reports by military blogs on both sides.

Rabotino is one of a handful of villages that Ukraine managed to capture during its failed summer counteroffensive, an operation that – according to the Russian Defense Ministry – cost Kiev more than 160,000 men.

Borrell claimed that “Ukraine would have fared better” if the EU had overcome its initial “hesitations” and supplied Kiev with “massive and immediate aid” when the conflict began two years ago. 

The EU has committed almost €85 billion ($92 billion) in military, economic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since February 2022, while its individual member states have given tens of billions more. The largest individual donor, Germany, has given Kiev more than €17 billion in military aid alone, while Denmark has given Ukraine €8.4 billion worth of arms and ammunition, or more than 2.4% of its GDP.

To Borrell, this is not enough. “If we want Ukraine to resist, we have to give it more help and faster,” he told El Pais.

However, it remains unclear when the EU will be able to actually produce the weapons demanded by Ukraine. Decades of underinvestment have left the bloc’s military industry unable to rapidly scale up production, with Borrell admitting last month that the EU will fail to meet its promise to supply Kiev with a million 155mm artillery shells by March. As it stands, just over half that amount will be delivered, Borrell said.