What will Zelensky achieve in London, Paris and Brussels?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky travelled to London on Wednesday, where he addressed Parliament and met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He then flew to Paris where he met French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. On Thursday he is scheduled to address the EU Parliament in Brussels and attend the EU Summit. Europe’s press analyses his priorities.

Strana (UA) /

Weapons to counter the upcoming offensive

For Strana, the main goal of the trip is clear:

“Judging by Zelensky’s statements about the need to supply Kyiv with fighter jets, his European trip is an attempt to step up the delivery of these and other weapons to Ukraine. Because the promised tanks will clearly not come in time for the Russian offensive that both the West and Kyiv are expecting. ... Yet Kyiv and the West are pretty much convinced that an offensive is imminent.”

Le Soir (BE) /

The British were the first to say yes

For Le Soir it’s clear why London was at the top of the Ukrainian president’s list:

“Zelensky came to Europe neither out of politeness nor for diplomacy, but for very pragmatic reasons: he is here to demand money, planes, longer range weapons and ammunition. ... That is why London was clearly the top priority: Britain was the first country to decide to send heavy tanks. The same reasoning applies to Germany and France, both of which are crucial for arms deliveries — and to whom Zelensky is offering an opportunity to show that they stand together, despite opinions to the contrary.”

Béatrice Delvaux
The Times (GB) /

The West must now deliver fighter jets

The Times is impressed by the power of Zelensky’s words:

“President Zelensky’s address to parliament was witty, moving, powerful and convincing. He paid generous tribute to the military help and political support Britain has already afforded Ukraine. He insisted, rightly, that this was not simply a local fight against Russian aggression but a symbolic struggle between totalitarian evil and the values of democracy. ... The rapturous applause from peers and MPs was not mere courtesy: the earlier debate in the Commons showed that all parties are united in a determination to do whatever is possible to help Ukraine ... This should prompt Nato into giving Ukraine the fighter jets needed to survive.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Next step after the usual back and forth

The British PM has said Britain will look into sending fighter jets to Ukraine. The Irish Independent detects a pattern:

“First [Ukraine] asks for an advanced weapons system. The US says no, but prompts Ukraine to seek such a system from its closer European neighbours. Nato countries in Europe then show their reluctance to commit to sending anything to Ukraine that would provoke Russia — unless the US is right in there with them. Months of back and forth generally follow. Then the White House says yes — and more weapons inevitably materialise. That is how it played out with the air-defence systems, with the armoured fighting vehicles and more recently with the battle tanks.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Rome is being left out

In the past, Scholz and Macron would have included Italy in such an important meeting, La Repubblica fumes, lamenting that the country has lost influence under Giorgia Meloni:

“This is not just about the Ukraine crisis. Meloni wasn’t excluded from the summit with Zelensky because of the numerous friends of Putin who form part of her government majority. ... Macron and Scholz excluded her because this Italy is no longer homogeneous with the European project. ... On the contrary, within a few months it has once again become a liability, as it was in Berlusconi’s time. Macron and Scholz needed Mario Draghi. But Giorgia Meloni and her government they are happy to dispense with.”

Andrea Bonanni