Ukraine: how much military aid is appropriate?

At the invitation of the US, more than 40 countries met on Tuesday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to demonstrate unity in supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia. Berlin agreed to supply tanks to Kyiv after much hesitation and London plans to provide fighter jets. Europe's press debates whether more weapons will help or risk further escalation.

Open/close all quotes
The Times (GB) /

Support must not wane

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has argued in favour of delivering fighter jets to Ukraine. Rightly so, says The Times:

“It is vital that the West pulls together to aid the legitimate government of Kyiv. There will be further bluster and yet more threats from Mr Putin during this conflict and Nato members must be prepared to up the ante. Instead of reassuring the Kremlin about what they will not do, they should convey a message that their military support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia's economy will continue until Kyiv considers its war aims achieved.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Kyiv cannot win like this

The West must either intervene directly or negotiate with Putin, because arms deliveries in their current form will only prolong Ukraine's suffering, The Guardian argues:

“The longer this war rages on, the more Ukrainians will flee their homeland, and the more devastation will be wrought upon their homes, cities, industry and economy. Yet the west's current approach of supporting Ukraine's war aim of defeating the aggressor, and providing arms for that purpose while pointedly avoiding direct military intervention, is guaranteed to prolong the war. Russia's progress may be slowed, but it's highly unlikely to be stopped. ... No day goes past without some senior western politician proclaiming that Ukraine will be 'successful' and that Russia is 'failing'. This is certainly morale-boosting. But it is clearly nonsense.”

El País (ES) /

The more even the balance, the longer the war

Columnist Lluís Bassets stresses in El País:

“In two months the balance of power has reversed: ... Winning will require determination and weapons. ... Hence the strong message of the international coalition formed in Ramstein: Ukraine wants to win and its friends want it to win. ... The Kremlin's reaction should come as no surprise: missiles targeting train stations and railway lines, the cutting off of gas for Poland and Bulgaria, and inflammatory statements by Foreign Minister Lavrov that make a nuclear strike and world war III sound plausible. Since the forces are more evenly distributed than initially assumed, it's clear that this war will be a long one.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

The West doesn't just want to help but to win

Der Tagesspiegel's Washington correspondent Juliane Schäuble observes a change of strategy on the part of the leading Western power:

“All of a sudden it all seems quite natural: the Americans convene an arms summit at their biggest airbase outside the US - and more than 40 countries accept the invitation. ... It is becoming increasingly clear that Washington not only wants to strengthen Kyiv's defence, but also to weaken Moscow. ... An enormously significant change of strategy can be observed. The Ramstein military summit is intended to cement this. It will be a 'historic meeting', the US Secretary of Defence declared as it kicked off. The focus is increasingly on military means, not diplomatic ones.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Generous gesture threatens to backfire

The Netherlands is supplying Ukraine with howitzers. De Telegraaf cites criticism coming from within the armed forces that this aid will weaken Dutch defences:

“International pressure to supply heavy weapons is high. German Chancellor Scholz's refusal to do so has met with scorn. The Germans are now yielding to the pressure and delivering anti-aircraft systems but not howitzers. They are supplying ammunition and training Ukrainian soldiers for 'our' howitzers. It only makes sense to ask what is worse: short-term scorn or long-term problems due to the generous gesture which according to experts poses a threat to the Netherlands?”

Krónika (RO) /

Help can take many forms

Ukraine's harsh criticism of countries that are not supplying it with weapons could cost it solidarity, says Krónika:

“There are many countries that have condemned Putin's invasion but for various reasons do not want to intervene in this war with weapons. ... So far, neither Hungary nor Romania have sent military support to Ukraine but they have given it all the more help in other forms. Both Hungary and Romania have helped hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees ... Trivialising this help is rather ungrateful and likely to dispel, or at least diminish, many people's sympathy for the Ukrainians, who are being attacked unilaterally and without cause by Russia.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Dangerous intentions

La Stampa warns:

“It's clear that US Secretary of State Blinken and Pentagon chief Austin have brought with them to Kyiv, in addition to a few tons of weapons, above all the confession of an intention that would be astonishing if it were not perfectly consistent with the drastic line Washington is taking in this tragedy, as if it were travelling on a motorway with no exits. ... We are moving into dangerous territory, beyond B-52s, drones and fighter jets. We are at a turning point. For the first time it is being conceded that Ukrainian freedom is basically just a fiction that the Americans are using to implement their policy - the destruction of Russian military power. Isn't that extremely dangerous?”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

The West is playing with fire

The West and especially the US are too involved in the war, political scientist Stephanos Konstantinidis writes in Phileleftheros:

“There are hundreds of Western military advisors and volunteers in Ukraine. The Ukrainian army is being advised by the US and gets key information about Russian movements from US intelligence. ... The sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva a few days ago was effectively carried out by the Americans. ... All this, of course, has not escaped the attention of the Russians, who warned the Americans of the consequences of their actions. It seems that the risk of nuclear weapons being used has not been ruled out. There are those who are playing with fire and do not want this war to end.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Allow arms deliveries via third countries

Switzerland should not hide behind the law of neutrality, the NZZ believes:

“It should go without saying that Western European states support Kyiv. However, the discourse in Germany about arms deliveries to Ukraine is viewed as the downfall of societies accustomed to peace. ... Now Switzerland is also experiencing an apparent moment of shame. ... Bern is not cutting a good figure in this war. ... Freedom and democracy are values that outweigh neutrality. Bern must question its political maxims just as much as Berlin should. Indirect arms deliveries via third countries should be compatible with the law of neutrality. This would be the right position for Switzerland to adopt today.”