Global security leaders, activists say it’s time to fight, not talk, in Ukraine

Even the Biden administration, which Senior leaders publicly disagree When diplomacy should begin, it made one of the strongest cases for continued and uninterrupted aid to Kyiv.

“The outcome of the war in Ukraine will help determine the course of global security in this young century, and those of us in North America have no choice but to sit out it,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Good address Saturday before leaving for Asia. “The stability and prosperity of both sides of the Atlantic is at stake.”

The forum has long served to bring together US and Western leaders on issues of global importance to promote democracy around the world. Ukraine’s fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression was the focus of this year’s convention.

“We cannot let Russia and Putin get away with this kind of aggression,” Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Olonggren said during the meeting.

“Ukrainians are fighting this war, but it’s also our war,” she said. “If Russia wins, it will directly affect our security.”

Addressed the audience There is growing debate about when and how to initiate discussions During three days of public and private sessions, however, the main message at the conference was two-fold on support for Ukraine. And Ukrainian officials who traveled thousands of miles to Halifax in the middle of the war said they were heartened by the support. “I feel a strong bond, especially being here,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanyshina told reporters.

Fresh off midterm elections that flipped control of the House from Democrats to Republicans, the group of nine lawmakers emphasized that bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for helping Ukraine defeat Russia is not waning.

“This is probably the most bipartisan issue I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress,” Sen said. Jim Rish of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“There are only a handful of people involved in this conflict in Ukraine,” Risch added. “So, focus on the majority. We are committed to doing this on a bilateral basis. We are working together on this.” Despite such promises, Ukraine has expressed concern that the Republican-led House There will be no hunger for long-term financial support.

The global resurgence of the war in Ukraine was top of mind for leaders across Europe. “If we lose in Ukraine, we lose Belarus, we lose credibility,” Poland’s defense chief, Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczyk, told POLITICO at the conference. China is watching the conflict closely, Andrzejczak added, and since Beijing is a long-term threat, success in Ukraine will have ramifications in the Indo-Pacific as well.

“It’s a matter of synchronizing our efforts,” he said. “If we don’t complete mission number one in Ukraine, we won’t be ready for mission number two, which is China.”

The general’s comments underscored what the tone was like in Halifax A 180-turn from last year. Subsequently, the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the January 6 uprising, and Russia’s military buildup along the Ukrainian border have made Atlantic allies question the strength of American democracy and global commitments. China was also the conference’s Big Bad, with panels and nightly powwows focused on curbing its growing power and countering its brand of authoritarianism.

But Beijing has received less attention this year and less criticism of the United States. The consensus was that Washington and its Western allies were right — and should continue to do so — to prioritize the fight in Ukraine, as well as de-escalate China’s tactics in cyber and technology. The tone in many ways mirrored the tone of two major NATO meetings this year in Brussels and Madrid in which Ukraine almost completely dismantled NATO’s previous efforts to counter Chinese influence.

Ukrainian leaders clearly saw the forum as an opportunity to bolster their case. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak, National Security Adviser Oleksiy Danilov and others literally interacted with the elite audience. Rejecting calls for an imminent negotiated peace. Instead, he said Ukraine is now the vanguard of global democracy, a sentiment shared by many who attended the forum.

“Today there is a historical unity of all democratic countries around Ukraine and this is very important. We are together, we will be together after winning this war,” Yermak said on Saturday.

That call for unity may have been particularly keen because of tensions in the opening days of the conference over a missile attack on the Ukrainian border in Poland that killed two civilians. Ukraine initially said a missile launched by Russia was to blame, but Warsaw and Washington said evidence pointed to a Ukrainian air-defense missile. Now, both the capitals have promised to wait for the outcome of the investigation before commenting further.

Like other Western leaders, Andrzejczak blamed Russia for the incident as it came under fire on Tuesday night with 100 Russian missiles targeting civilian infrastructure.

After the two-day conference session, where to go from here, the question arose on Sunday. Indications that Kiev is planning the next phase of the war may require an answer soon.

Yermak and Deputy Prime Minister Stefanishina both warned of an impending military campaign to retake Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. Yet no official would talk about a timeline. Ukraine’s deputy defense minister told Sky News Ukrainian troops will be in Crimea by the end of December.

Congress is also considering $38 billion in aid to Ukraine in the coming weeks as part of the government’s funding package. The latest request from the Biden administration comes on top of the roughly $66 billion allocated by Congress for military, economic and humanitarian aid since Russia launched its full-scale offensive in February.

Legal experts can help beyond what the administration is looking for.

Sen. Chris Cones (D-Del.) argued that Congress should extend Biden’s request Capitalize on humanitarian aid as well as war zone profits.

“I hope we add a humanitarian side to it,” Koons told reporters.

“The United States needs to make clear that we will not only provide the package requested by the president, but we are prepared to add to it in ways that we believe will enhance Ukraine’s defense,” Coons said.

Representative Sarah Jacobs (D-Calif.), however, urged that funding for Ukraine be looked at more deeply in the future. “I hope the focus on winning extends beyond weapons, because I think rebuilding really needs to be done,” she said. The focus should be on “rebuilding a democratic Ukraine.”

Lawmakers met with Austin on Friday on the sidelines of the conference. Pentagon chiefs discussed, among other issues, how aid could change to address emerging challenges in Ukraine as well as the health of the defense industrial base, which should increase to provide weapons and equipment while backfilling the stockpile of weapons already sent to the United States. Frontlines, according to Rep. Jason Crowe (D-Colo.).

“I would much rather have Ukraine as a member of the Defense Contact Group than Russia right now, because they’re in a really bad position,” Crowe said. “It will take a long, long time for Vladimir Putin and Russia to rebuild the military that it was nine months ago. It’s bad for them.

“So, yes, what we’re doing is very effective,” he said. “But the enemy always has an opinion.”

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