Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made an unexpected visit to Brussels, where Nato defence ministers are gathered. Zelenskiy expressed his concerns about the implications of recent events in the Middle East and their potential impact on Ukraine’s military assistance.

The Ukrainian president is anxious about the potential diversion of continued military assistance to other regions.

During his address to Nato defence ministers, President Zelenskiy emphasised the perilous state of affairs in Ukraine and made a plea for continued military assistance from the alliance. He argued that the turbulence in the United States Congress, which has been wavering on providing aid to Kyiv, worsens Ukraine’s security woes.

Zelenskiy urged for more weapons and air defences to fortify Ukraine’s infrastructure, especially its power stations and energy facilities, as winter approaches. The concern is that Russian forces may exploit vulnerabilities in these critical areas to exert further pressure on Ukraine.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a fresh military contribution of $200 million to Ukraine.

President Zelenskiy expressed concerns that Russia hopes to divide the support among different crises, potentially diminishing the assistance Ukraine receives. He briefly alluded to potential challenges linked to American elections but conveyed that he had received assurances from international partners that support for Ukraine would persist.

In his response, Secretary Austin assured President Zelenskiy that both Ukraine and its allies will continue to receive support. He emphasised that the United States stands ready to stand with Ukraine through these trying times.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo took the stage during the Nato meetings and announced support for Ukraine. He announced Belgium’s intention to provide F16 fighter jets to Ukraine in 2025, which will bolster Ukraine’s air defence capabilities. Moreover, he pledged immediate maintenance assistance for fighter jets donated by other nations.

De Croo introduced a €1.7 billion fund that will be financed by a levy on interest earned from frozen Russian assets. This fund is designed to further support Ukraine’s efforts to bolster its security and rebuild its infrastructure. Simultaneously, a new scheme was launched to block Russian diamonds from the retail market, marking a significant diplomatic stance against Russia’s actions.

Zelenskiy likened Vladimir Putin’s tactics to those of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, stressing the importance of Western military aid in pushing Russia into a defensive position in the ongoing conflict. He acknowledged the risks associated with decreased assistance. He pointed out that this is not merely a risk for Ukraine, but it’s a risk for the entire international community. If Ukraine doesn’t receive the help it needs, Russia could gain more power, prolong the war, and potentially expand its influence into EU countries.

Zelenskiy firmly stated that the most cost-effective option for everyone is to end the warfare in Ukraine and remove Russian forces from Ukrainian territory. He voiced concerns that Russia’s interests lay in permanent destabilisation and reducing assistance to Ukraine while exploiting the situation in Israel.

Zelenskiy also urged the West to rally around Israel, echoing the support that had been extended to Ukraine in the past.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius reassured that the increased support for Israel from the United States would not come at the expense of Ukraine.