| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

Zelenskiy tells Europe: Russia will attack others if Ukraine loses

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine, cautioned European leaders on Thursday that if Europe were to waver in its support for Kyiv, Russia may rebuild its military capabilities and attack other nations within five years.

While in Spain for an EPC summit, Zelenskiy expressed his continued confidence in U.S. and European financial support despite “political storms” in Washington and other places.

In an emotional speech, Zelenskiy described how Ukrainian children in the eastern city of Kharkiv were learning remotely or attending classes in subway stations because of air raids.

“Until there is a fully effective air defence system, children cannot attend school,” he told the gathering in the city of Granada.

Underlining the horrors of war, a Russian attack on a village in the Kharkiv region on Thursday killed at least 51 people, including a six-year-old boy, Ukrainian officials said.

Zelenskiy said that by providing additional military equipment to Ukraine, European countries could help ensure that a “drone, tank, or any other Russian weapon will not strike anyone else in Europe”.

“We must not allow (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to destabilize any other parts of the world and our partners in order to ruin Europe’s power,” Zelenskiy said.

“The presence of Russia, its military or proxies in the territory of any other country is a threat to all of us. We must work together to push Russia out of the territory of other countries,” he added.


The European Political Community was established last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to foster cooperation among more than 40 countries from Norway to Moldova.

The Granada gathering gives leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a chance to re-state their commitment to Ukraine after political turbulence in both the U.S. and Europe raised questions about continued support.

A dispute among the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has complicated budget negotiations and prompted President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to go from confidence that a deal will be made on Ukraine aid to openly expressing concern.

Support in Europe has also appeared less rock-solid after pro-Russian former Prime Minister Robert Fico won an election in Slovakia last weekend on pledges to end military aid to Ukraine.

Zelenskiy admitted he was concerned but said he was optimistic about continued support.

“The situation with the Unites States is dangerous, it’s a tough period,” he said after holding several meetings at the summit.

He added: “I think that the United States and Europe will be together with Ukraine and we will together get out of this crisis.”

The head of the European Commission, the EU executive, Ursula von der Leyen, said the bloc was working on a 50 billion-euro Ukraine package for 2024-2027, adding that she was “very confident” about continued U.S. help for Kyiv.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Ukraine could continue to count on support from Europe.

“There is a very deep, very strong commitment because we all know that we are talking about Europe and about the very possibility of lasting peace on our continent,” he said.

Individual countries also made pledges in Granada.

Germany was working on the supply of an additional Patriot air defence missile system to Ukraine in the winter months Scholz said, while a government source said Spain had offered Ukraine another six HAWK air defence systems to protect the country’s grain corridor and critical infrastructure.

Zelenskiy said he had discussed with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the summit host, a new military aid package, energy assistance, and how to keep open a corridor in the Black Sea for Ukrainian grain exports.


Russia pulled out of a deal in July that had allowed Ukraine – a leading global grain exporter – to safely ship food products out via the Black Sea.

Russia has so far rejected U.N. overtures to revive the deal, while Ukraine is continuing some exports via what it calls a temporary “humanitarian corridor” for cargo vessels.

Ukraine’s efforts to export grain overland via EU countries have caused tensions with Poland and some other eastern members of the bloc that are keen to protect their own farmers. Kyiv and Brussels are also discussing expanding alternative sea routes.

The summit will also discuss efforts by Ukraine and others to join the EU as well as how to tackle increasing arrivals of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa – both seen as existential challenges for the bloc.

“Going from an EU of 27 to an EU of 35 will create many challenges internally. We will open in Granada this large debate that will take us to a deep reform of the EU,” said Sanchez.

Talks on the margins of Thursday’s gathering were focused on crises between Azerbaijan and Armenia and between Serbia and Kosovo, which have flared in recent weeks amid floundering EU efforts at mediation.

  • Reuters