Just like the last time he yearned for a popularity boost, Boris Johnson made a “surprise visit” to Kiev on Friday. He met Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky—and, said Johnson, “In particular, we talked about the need to increase the supply of heavy weapons.”
Zelensky warmly greeted Johnson with a “Hi, Boris” as he arrived at the presidential palace. Johnson confirmed Britain would offer Ukrainian forces a major training programme which would have the capacity to train as many as 10,000 soldiers every 120 days. This is an admission that the war will grind on at a terrible cost for ordinary Ukrainians and Russians.
In an article in the Sunday Times, Johnson called for “constant funding and technical help” for Ukraine which should, he wrote, be maintained for “years to come”. Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg also warned that “we must be prepared for this to last for years.” Speaking to German newspaper Bild, Stoltenberg said, “We must not weaken in our support of Ukraine, even if the costs are high—not only in terms of military support but also because of rising energy and food prices.”
Johnson’s visit came a day after European Union leaders, including France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Mario Draghi, went to the Ukrainian capital. They too pledged to shower Ukraine with more and heavier weaponry.
At the same time, the European Commission adopted a recommendation that Ukraine is granted EU candidate status, a first step in the process of becoming a member of the bloc. The war in Ukraine has been used to expand the EU’s role. It will be not simply a policeman to protect business and obstruct “radical” social policy, but also increasingly a military group dominated by Europe’s major imperialist powers.
The war is accentuating all the tensions between the West, Russia and China. And that is further intensified by the economic pressures from spiralling inflation. The Nato summit in Madrid later this month will be a council of escalating war.
Nato defence Ministers concluded two days of talks for the summit on Thursday. Stoltenberg said the summit would address key areas, including strengthened deterrence and defence and Finland and Sweden’s applications for membership of the warmongers’ alliance.
On Wednesday evening, Nato members met with Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov. Stoltenberg said, “Allies have announced additional assistance, including much-needed heavy weapons and long-range systems.”
Looking to a future of heightened militarism, Stoltenberg said, “This will mean more Nato forward-deployed combat formations”. Nato also wants “to strengthen our battlegroups in the eastern part of our Alliance. More air, sea and cyber defences, as well as pre-positioned equipment and weapon stockpiles. And a new force model, with more forces at higher readiness, and specific forces to enable much faster reinforcement.”
Without any genuine democratic discussion, a giant leap is taking place towards building up Nato countries’ military power. And it is happening as workers’ lives are squeezed by soaring prices and real terms cuts in vital services.
Stoltenberg boasted that there had been seven consecutive years of rising defence investment across European Nato members and Canada. But he wanted more. “Now is the time to keep up the momentum,” he said.
This is the sort of rhetoric that drives toward wider war. Ukraine has said recently that its forces have hit a Russian naval tugboat with two Harpoon missiles in the Black Sea. It is the first time it has claimed to have struck a Russian vessel with Western-supplied anti-ship weapons.
Russian forces continue to pound cities in eastern Ukraine, causing mass destruction and appalling casualties. Instead of fueling the war, there has to be a stronger movement to end it.
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