'Russia is cut away from the world': Von der Leyen highlights Russia's isolation

'Russia is cut away from the world': Von der Leyen highlights Russia's isolation
Credit: Thierry Roge / Belga

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has openly derided Russia's political isolation and has promised to step up EU aid to Ukraine, in comments delivered on the first anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion.

Speaking on Friday in Tallinn, Estonia's capital city, von der Leyen hailed a recent United Nations General Assembly resolution, which reaffirmed international "commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity" and "demanded that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all military forces from the territory of Ukraine".

"I think the vote yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly was very telling," von der Leyen said. "141 countries voted in favour of the resolution condemning Russia. Russia is falling backwards towards an autarchic economy, cut away from the world." Seven countries voted against the resolution, with 32 abstentions.

The Commission President pointed out Russia's failures on the battlefield which have displayed Moscow's "desperation [and] delusion". However, she warned that this "also comes with real and renewed danger for Ukraine".

Ammo, ammo, ammo

Von der Leyen praised the EU's provision of €67 billion in military, humanitarian, and financial support for Ukraine since the start of the war, as well as the recent decision to increase military training for Ukrainians within the European Union from 15,000 to 30,000.

But ammunition remains a key demand that Member States are struggling to keep up with. Alongside the pressing need to supply Ukraine with ammunition, many nations must also bolster their own stockpiles.

"We will turn to joint procurement to deliver urgent military supplies for Ukraine, such as 155-millimetre ammunition. Equally important is to ramp up the production of this ammunition and other equipment needed by Ukrainian forces, but also to replenish our own stocks."

The Commission President's comments echoed remarks made earlier this month by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who noted that NATO countries are struggling to produce enough ammunition to supply Ukraine as it struggles to reclaim territory occupied by Russia.

"The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied stockpiles," Stoltenberg said. "The current rate of Ukraine's ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defence industries under strain."

He added: "It is clear that we are in a race of logistics. Key capabilities like ammunition, fuel, and spare parts must reach Ukraine before Russia can seize the initiative on the battlefield."

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