Belgium in Brief: Zelenskyy bids for jets

Belgium in Brief: Zelenskyy bids for jets

For the most part, the workings of the EU institutions are removed from Brussels life – at times hidden from view entirely. But there are days when the world watches Brussels.

Today is one of those days, as President Zelenskyy makes a historic visit to the European Parliament, and is currently addressing MEPs. The opening speeches by himself and Parliament President Roberta Metsola made clear the link between the conflict in Ukraine and the danger to the entire EU project.

Though Ukraine is not yet an EU Member State, the spirit of fraternity within the Parliament's hemicycle was unequivocal as Metsola gave assurances that "You don't have to convince anyone of the need to support Ukraine". For his part, Zelenskyy seemed confident that his country will prevail in its EU ambitions and put pressure on those in attendance to accept this as fait accompli.

Yet whilst the Parliament serves as a stage for superlative rhetoric, concrete commitments will be decided by a few major leaders at a later date. Whilst accession to the EU is a fervent wish held by many in Ukraine as well as EU officials, the pressing issue is immediate military aid.

Whereas major allies had previously been firmly against providing heavy military equipment to Ukraine, leaders are now far more willing to prop up the Ukrainian push-back with their military muscle. As the enormous diplomatic and economic arm of the West has failed to put Russia off its expansion intentions, how much more are allies willing to intervene?

Zelenskyy has already met with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which will provide fighter jet training, though not yet any promise of the aircraft themselves. The same bid for jets will now be put to EU powers, with Zelenskyy telling MEPs that "We are defending you against the most anti-European force in the world".

Were Ukraine to receive the machines, this would be a pivotal juncture in the war. Yet would also be a step closer to even graver escalations that would likely implicate the wider region. The chances of nuclear warfare are not dissipating.

Meanwhile, a negotiated de-escalation remains off the cards. Metsola insisted that "peace will reign and you will win". But where one side claims victory another must accept a loss. This logical prerequisite for peace is currently being ignored.

Should Ukraine be given jets? Let @Orlando_tbt know.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your coffee break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

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