Now it's up to the EU to decide on new aid to Kiev


By John

“No concrete announcements are to be expected.” The High Representative Josep Borrell for weeks he has been urging member states in view of the 'jumbo' – the Foreign-Defense Council of Luxembourg – to finally get their hands on the warehouses and deliver the anti-aircraft that Ukraine desperately needs. But beyond generic “the time for words is over, now we need facts”, the rumors on the eve do not foresee fireworks. For many reasons. The first, however, is the most cynical. The USA is finally about to approve the 60 billion aid package, after months of stalemate, and is “the home of the Patriots”. Easy to put one and one together. “The feeling is that many capitals now expect Washington to deliver the precious anti-missile batteries, given that it has more of them than everyone else,” confides a diplomatic source. In reality the issue is hairier. Because the Americans are very attentive to the concept of 'burden sharing', the sharing of efforts with European allies. Kiev has asked for at least seven Patriot or Samp-T systems. But there are very few Samp-Ts around and they are needed by their owners (Franca and Italia). Germany has already sent a third system (out of 12 in total in its possession) and considers its commitment finished. Now it's up to others. Greece, in particular, has come under fire. According to information circulating in Brussels, Athens has as many as 20 Patriot systems in its arsenal. “We understand that the eastern Mediterranean is a delicate quadrant, especially after the conflict between Iran and Israel,” notes a senior European source. “Of course, these are sovereign decisions, but Athens could do something more.”

Another piece. Berlin has put itself at the head of the coalition of those willing for the air shield and has also involved the Gulf countries, which have many Patriots in their possession, in the initiative. And coincidentally, there will also be a meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council in Luxembourg. Again. It is not expected that the topic will be addressed in depth – “the format is too broad to discuss such sensitive issues” – but the opportunity is good for some bilateral talks. Defense on the other hand is the prerogative of nation states and the EU has few competences or point, therefore the action of the high representative must be framed in the realm of 'moral suasion'. The Council will be an opportunity to put pressure “on the lazy” and – explains a blue-starred official – “raise the temperature”. The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, after the NATO-Ukraine Council at the level of defense ministers, he announced “imminent aid” in Kiev, clearly showing how the channels available to the Alliance are evidently more effective than those of the EU. But since, in the end, the capitals decide – and announce them, if they want – the supplies, Ukraine is not interested in the process, if anything it looks at the result. This does not mean that the EU is useless. In Brussels it is noted that the European Peace Fund can reimburse member states also on the Patriot front and this could be an incentive for those who have batteries available. We always return to the starting point: it is not the will that is lacking, but the equipment. Producing both the Patriot and the Samp-T takes years and Kiev can no longer wait. All that remains is to provide what is “on the shelves”. Stoltenberg was clear: send, be patient if you fall below the minimum thresholds of the Alliance, we will replace them later. “It's a detail that can make the difference,” highlights a European diplomat. In Luxembourg there will probably be 'the count'. With one eye (but also two) on what the US will do.