Polish Foreign Minister: Ukraine needs more money and military equipment from allies



A Ukrainian gunner trains on an M109 self-propelled howitzer at the Grafenwoehr training area, Germany, May 11, 2022. Soldiers from the United States and Norway trained Ukrainian Armed Forces gunners on howitzers in under the security assistance programs of their respective countries. (US Army photo)

Ukraine needs more heavy military equipment and financial aid from Western allies and partners to avert Russian invasion, Poland’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Zbigniew Rau said Ukraine also needs expanded training outside the country’s borders so its soldiers can cope with changing battlefield conditions.

“The only reasonable reason for this mobilization [of 300,000 Russian reservists] is the will to prevail on the pitch,” he said.

Noting that neighboring Poland provided Ukraine with more tanks and armored personnel carriers than France and Germany combined, he added that the Ukrainians “proved victorious” in foiling the Kremlin attack against Kyiv and other major cities using its best trained and equipped soldiers.

But the war is also taking a heavy toll on Ukrainian forces in terms of casualties and loss of equipment. Russia still controls about 20% of Ukrainian territory.

“Poland was the first to help Ukraine” in the first hours of the invasion with weapons and financial aid. Rau said that at one point the Poles were supporting 3 million refugees – mostly women and children – within its borders with food, healthcare, education and other social services. Early on, Warsaw also opened its bases and facilities as a logistics hub to support Ukrainians.

“In our part of the world, freedom means freedom from Russia,” he said.

Rau added that former President Ronald Reagan’s description of Poland in the 1980s, with the Solidarity Against Communist Regime union in Warsaw, now applies to Ukraine. Reagan said the Poles were “beautifully incompatible with aggression”.

The foreign minister warned democracies against compromising with authoritarian regimes with expansionist ambitions because “imperialism will not be stopped” by treaties that are not honoured.

While President Vladimir Putin may have bolstered support from hardliners in Russia for the invasion, his decision to call up men in their 30s and early 40s to active duty, “every Russian family would be obliged to discuss the reasons for the war”.

Rau added that it can also have a direct impact on the standard of living of Russian families when the main breadwinner is absent.

Responding to a question at the Center for Strategic and International Studies event, Rau said there was no comparison to the relatively few Americans who went to Canada to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War and what is happening on Russia’s borders now as thousands of men between 18 and 35 leave to avoid the roll call. So far, Russia has not closed its borders.

On Putin’s threat to use tactical nuclear weapons, Rau said, “it is necessary to take it seriously.” Unlike the US use of nuclear weapons against Japan to end World War II more quickly, the threat from Russia “would be completely different.” They would be “used by the losing side of the war”.

NATO’s response, he said, would be conventional and Ukraine-centric.

As the conflict continues into the fall, “I don’t see any signs [war fatigue among nations that back Ukraine] is a likely development. He added, “we have a good chance of staying that way” in a winter when energy supplies are questionable.

Over the past 10 years, Poland has been striving to achieve energy independence from Russia, Western Europe’s largest natural gas supplier. During energy talks in Washington with his counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Rau said “nuclear power is the best solution” to meet the nation’s demands. Poland has also discussed with France the development of nuclear energy as an energy source.

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