| 8 December 2023, Friday |

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy is paying a visit to Belgium

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy is in Belgium this Wednesday, Belgian media reported, where a meeting of NATO defence ministers is taking place.

NATO ministers are also due to meet in Brussels with their Ukrainian counterpart, Rustem Umerov, in a session of the NATO-Ukraine Council, a body established at the alliance’s Vilnius summit in July to foster closer cooperation between NATO and Kyiv.

The ministers will also discuss issues of concern beyond the war in Ukraine, including damage to a subsea gas pipeline and a telecommunications cable linking NATO members Finland and Estonia reported on Tuesday.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is also expected to join the ministers on Thursday via videoconference to discuss Hamas’ large-scale attack on Israel last weekend and its consequences.

Local media also report that Zelenskiy is expected to attend a meeting of the “Ukraine Defense Contact Group” with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg and to meet the Belgian government followed by a press conference.

After Spain, Belgium will hold the European Union’s rotating presidency for six months starting Jan 1 2024.

In the Contact Group, officials were expected to focus on helping Ukraine prepare for winter with more air defence systems to fend off Russian attacks on energy infrastructure and more ammunition to ensure Ukrainian forces can sustain their counter-offensive.

Diplomats expect U.S. officials such as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Air Force General Charles Q. Brown, the new top U.S. military officer, to try to reassure NATO allies and Ukraine that Washington will continue to provide support to Kyiv despite aid being held up by infighting in the U.S. Congress.

  • Reuters