In Kyiv, Allied legislators call for sustained support for Ukraine until victory

26 June 2024

Encouraged by the renewed and ongoing military support from its partners, Ukraine is determined to turn the tide of the war and push back against Russia’s illegal and brutal aggression. Kyiv expects that the decisions from the upcoming NATO Washington Summit will formulate a clear and ambitious strategy to help Ukraine achieve victory and defeat Russia, as well as to support Ukraine for the long term. Ukraine also hopes the Summit will recognise its path towards NATO membership is irreversible and take concrete steps to accelerate its integration.  

These were the main messages that NATO and Ukrainian legislators highlighted during a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) in Kyiv on 24-25 June. UNIC is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s (NATO PA) main forum for cooperation with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and a parliamentary equivalent of the NATO-Ukraine Council. Some 25 parliamentarians from 11 NATO countries and Ukraine participated in the meeting. 

“We are at a pivotal moment in our support for Ukraine,” said Lithuanian lawmaker Audronius Azubalis, Co-Chair of the UNIC, adding that “Allied support, including political, financial, and military assistance, is more urgent than ever before.” 

“We must stand with Ukraine until victory and beyond. This is the test of our time, of our generation. They need our help. Not in two years. Not in two months. Not even in two weeks,” echoed former NATO PA President Michal Szczerba (Poland). “They  need long range missiles now. No limits, no red lines.’’ 

This was Mr Szczerba’s final visit to Ukraine before taking up his mandate in the European Parliament in mid-July. Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, presented Mr Szczerba with a certificate of merit for outstanding achievements before the Ukrainian people. “Our duty is to work hard for victory in the NATO Assembly, in our national parliaments and in the European Parliament too.” 

Chairman Stefanchuk underscored that “today’s war is a war of attrition. Economic exhaustion, exhaustion of defence resources, moral exhaustion.” He warned that “Putin’s regime is seeking to break our resistance at any cost and force the world to live by the rules of the past – the law of force, zones of influence and limited sovereignty.” 

Ukrainian government officials and military leaders updated Allied legislators on the situation on the battlefield, which they argued was the most difficult since the start of the full-scale invasion. They highlighted the efforts by Kyiv, with the crucial help of its Western partners, to address critical military capability, munition and manpower shortages, including through innovative approaches to mobilisation. However, Ukraine still critically and urgently needs long-range strike capability, air defences, ammunition, F-16 fighter jets and armoured vehicles among others, Allied parliamentarians heard. 

Audronius Azubalis stressed the need to remove restrictions for Ukraine to strike legitimate targets on Russian territory, adding that “we must stop doing Putin’s job by tying Ukraine’s hands – and ours.” The Assembly called on Allies to lift some of their restrictions on Ukraine’s use of Allied weapons against legitimate targets inside Russia in its declaration 489 on Standing with Ukraine until Victory adopted at its spring session in Sofia in May 2024

NATO legislators were also briefed on the strengthening of NATO’s coordination role for the provision of assistance and training in support of Ukraine – a decision agreed by Allied Defence Ministers earlier this month and which NATO Heads of State and Government are expected to ratify, together with a long-term financial pledge, at the Washington Summit. 

Concluding the visit, Mr Azubalis and the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO PA, Yehor Cherniev, issued a joint statement in which they, inter alia, expressed their personal conviction that, while it would not result in immediate accession, “the invitation for Ukraine to join NATO, at the Washington Summit, would be a visionary step, demonstrating NATO’s principles, strength, unity and determination. This would be a clear sign to the democratic world as well as to the axis of evil.”  

Mr Cherniev stressed that “Ukraine sees the invitation as the only available legal instrument to confirm the irreversibility of Ukraine’s accession to NATO and to protect against potential changes in the position of individual member states regarding long term support for Ukraine.” 

The NATO PA has consistently supported Ukraine’s NATO membership path and, at former President Szczerba’s initiative, granted Ukraine’s Parliament the status of a NATO Candidate delegation in March this year. 

Also in Kyiv, members of the UNIC reviewed Ukraine’s ongoing reforms, implemented in the framework of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, including in public procurement, interoperability with NATO, and political and economic reforms for EU accession. Legislators applauded the commencement of Ukraine’s EU accession negotiations on the day of the UNIC meeting. 

Allied legislators were updated on the horrific war and other crimes committed by  Russia on Ukrainian soil. More than 30,000 criminal proceedings were opened in Ukraine to investigate these crimes. Ukrainian officials thanked international partners for their legal and political support in holding Russian perpetrators accountable, including by promoting the establishment of a special tribunal for prosecuting the crime of aggression.  

Russia is also inflicting considerable suffering on the Ukrainian population by intensifying attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure. Ukraine is taking measures to repair power plants and secure sufficient energy imports. However, to survive the upcoming winter, Ukraine will need partners’ support, including by providing more air defence systems, developing energy interconnectors, supplying spare parts for power plants and offering affordable credit lines to Ukrainian energy producers.  

Allied and Ukrainian legislators shared the view that sanctions against Russia must be stepped up further, while ensuring their robust implementation. 

Ukrainian governmental and civil society representatives also briefed the visiting delegation about the resilience of Ukrainian democracy against Russian disinformation, which was significantly intensified since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. 

While in Kyiv, Allied parliamentarians also visited Ukraine’s National Defence University, the Mriya volunteer territorial defence division and a drone factory. 

The Assembly is institutionally separate from NATO but serves as an essential link between NATO and the parliaments of the NATO nations. It provides greater transparency of NATO policies and fosters better understanding of the Alliance’s objectives and missions among legislators and citizens of the Alliance. 

UNIC was created in 1998 to bring greater transparency to the implementation of the NATO Ukraine Charter and to demonstrate parliamentary interest and involvement in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. It has since become a wider forum where members can discuss any issues of mutual concern. UNIC has played a leading role in the Assembly’s response to Russia’s renewed invasion. 

Photos of the visit

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