Grandstand. The invasion of Ukraine created an immense shock in public opinion, opened the eyes of those who for decades had refused to see the obvious and led Western governments to react with a certain vigor: very serious economic sanctions (but not as massive as announced) and, above all, deliveries of “defensive” weapons in large quantities.
On all these points, there is more or less consensus, with nuances and a greater or lesser eagerness to actually deliver these weapons – even those who, like the Germans, had refused to do so for so long, have decided to deliver to Ukraine 2,700 anti-aircraft missiles. This is not nothing, especially when compared to the 5,000 helmets that Berlin has long considered perfectly sufficient to ensure the defense of Ukraine…
Attitudes differ a little, with Americans at the forefront, very discreet French people, and Israelis who categorically refuse any contribution. But these deliveries are vital to allow the Ukrainians to defend themselves and to last against the overwhelming Russian numerical superiority.
Another point also seems to have consensus, and this one is stranger: weapons, yes, but defensive, only defensive. The recent NATO summit (apart from the fact that it only gave birth to a mouse, with a few additional sanctions) did not change anything in this posture, forcefully reaffirmed by Mr. Macron: defensive, yes, offensive, especially not, it would be too dangerous.
Isn’t this distinction very strange? First, because offensive or defensive, weapons kill and therefore constitute a de facto commitment to war. But, above all, because it seems to proceed from a very curious logic: the Ukrainians have the right to defend themselves. The Russians have all the rights, and run no risk – since NATO, led by the United States, affirmed loud and clear, even as the invasion appeared imminent, that in no case would they would intervene. It is therefore urgent to wait; a use of chemical weapons, in particular, would be followed by a “reaction” not specified, caution requires.
President Zelensky, increasingly embittered by this attitude, and who, despite his courage and coolness as well as his ability to speak to everyone in a language he can understand, can no longer conceal his exasperation – and wonders aloud if Moscow is in charge in NATO.
Without any hope of obtaining a no-fly zone, he calls for planes and tanks. The answer is “niet”. The initiative, perhaps clumsy, of Poland, which would have consisted in handing over to NATO its own MiG-29 to be then transferred to Ukraine, ran up against an end of inadmissibility. No question either, Mr. Macron repeated, of delivering tanks.
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