Ukraine’s new defense minister has blamed Germany for blocking the supply of weapons to Kyiv through NATO, despite US warnings of a possible invasion by Russian forces.
Oleksii Reznikov told the Financial Times that Berlin last month vetoed Ukraine’s purchase of anti-drone rifles and anti-sniper systems through the Nato Procurement and Support Agency. Since then, however, Germany has been satisfied with the first item, after deeming it non-lethal.
“They are still building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and at the same time blockade our defensive weapons. It is very unfair,” said Reznikov, referring to Russian gas pipeline runs across the Baltic Sea to Germany and bypasses existing supply routes through Ukraine.
Kyiv has struggled to fill the gap in its military capabilities, but allies are wary that the weapons supply can be seen as a provocation, or even an excuse to escalate, by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine is urgently looking to buy air and missile defense systems, electronic warfare suites and cyber defense equipment.
With Germany blocking the purchase of lethal equipment – a position taken by Angela Merkel’s former government – Mr. Reznikov said Ukraine would seek to buy weapons through bilateral agreements with allies, including the US and UK. , Lithuania and France.
Locations new German government, led by Prime Minister Olaf Scholz, remains unclear. The German Economy Ministry, which is responsible for approving or vetoing arms exports, declined to comment on Sunday, as did the German chancellor.
In May, Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Green Party and now economy minister in the ruling coalition, said Ukraine’s request for defensive weapons would be “hard to refuse”.
Reznikov said he was in a “very optimistic mood” about receiving missiles and other defensive weapons from the US and other pro-Western countries after holding talks with his counterparts.
But he could not confirm whether supplies would arrive quickly enough to stave off a full-blown Russian invasion. Western leaders, led by US President Joe Biden, have threatens to cripple economic sanctions to prevent Moscow from further aggression.
Following the summit meeting in Liverpool on Sunday, the G7 foreign ministers released statement called on Moscow to “de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels and adhere to international commitments”.
Russia should have no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine will have enormous consequences and be costly in response.
Reznikov says Western allies’ fears of confronting Putin from a great power position are misguided.
“Don’t provoke Russia – that strategy doesn’t work and won’t work,” he said, noting that Moscow invaded Georgia after Berlin and Paris blocked the country’s path to NATO membership in 2008. .
Despite growing US warnings about a possible Russian invasionReznikov, like other Ukrainian officials, downplayed the imminent threat.
Kyiv estimates there are around 100,000 Russian troops deployed along its border – similar to the Russian military reinforcements during the spring and summer. According to US assessments, while Moscow is building plantations for up to 175,000 employees, many of those tents appear to be uninhabited, Reznikov said.
A conflict would be a disaster for Europe, he said, with millions of Ukrainians possibly fleeing to the EU and Ukraine’s large grain exports in jeopardy.
“There will be a lot of coffins returning to Russia,” he said, adding an invasion would mark “the end of the current world” and usher in “a new era” without regulations. international rules.
Reznikov, a lawyer who served as minister of reintegration of the occupied territories until being promoted to defense minister last month, said Kyiv has had no indication from Washington that aspiration to join NATO will delayed or excluded. Last week, Biden agreed to further talks with Putin to discuss Russia’s objections to Ukraine becoming a NATO member.
Of Moscow “Red lines” against Ukraine Reznikov said the Nato incursion was only part of Russia’s “salami-slicing tactics” against the alliance. “My perception is that the US understands these threats. They have to keep the union united.”
Reznikov also denied Kyiv had come under any pressure from the US to grant special status or deeper autonomy to the occupied Donbas regions as a way of kickstarting stalled peace talks.