Ukraine's allies face key decisions on military aid after Zelenskyy warns of "painfully" slow decision-making

Ukraine has found itself on the defensive against advancing Russian troops at multiple points on the frontline after months-long delays in approving and delivering additional Western military aid. This has led to frustration as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes that decisions are being taken too long after they are required.

Zelenskyy has called for more urgency to be shown by allies, and this appears to be slowly moving the European needle. One example of this is the dropping of the ban on using Western weapons to target Russian military positions.

However, aid is still moving too slowly. Anger towards Hungary among EU member states has risen over the past year as Budapest blocks payouts from the European Peace Facility to reimburse them for weapons sent to Ukraine, as well as a new €5 billion Ukraine Assistance Fund. Meanwhile, the EU's one million ammunition plan remains at roughly halfway with only a small part of the shells pledged under the Czech ammunition initiative expected to reach Ukraine in June. To counter this, Prague has stepped up calls on European allies to fulfil their commitments and help shop ammunition abroad for Kyiv. A senior EU official admitted this week that "the real issue we have to face is a lack of unity."

France wants to forge a coalition of Western countries that are willing to take the contentious step of training Ukrainian troops on the ground; however, this could run into resistance from Washington, Berlin, and others who would see a red line crossed and the danger of the war escalating onto European soil. These issues will be addressed during a series of key summits in the next few weeks.

French President Emmanuel Macron could aim to move forward on the plan when Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Ukraine's Zelenskyy, and a host of EU leaders, meet for the celebrations of the World War II D-Day landings in Normandy. The US proposal to squeeze more money for Ukraine from Russian immobilised assets is expected to be discussed when G7 leaders meet in Italy in mid-June.

Ukraine wants to increase the pressure on Russia and force Moscow to make concessions during the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, which is expected to include representatives of more than 90 countries. Participants will try to chart a course for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine based on Zelenskyy's 10-point plan calling for the return of all occupied territory, reparation for war-related damages, and the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.

Ukraine has held the position that it will not negotiate with Russia directly until Moscow's forces leave the entire Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean Peninsula. However, it remains unclear whether the gathering will be able to draw a significant number of delegates from the Global South, who are seen as crucial to sending a message to Moscow. On Sunday, Zelenskyy publicly rebuked China for helping Russia derail the peace summit preparations.

The NATO summit in Washington in July, where Ukraine can expect more aid pledges, including a €100 billion fund proposal for several years, is also on the horizon. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has pushed for the aid to be "Trump-proof," meaning that it will be organised for the long term to continue even if former President Donald Trump should return to the White House after the US elections in November.

Despite horrifying images coming out of Gaza, Europeans are looking for the right tools to exert pressure on Israel. However, they may not be able to bridge their fundamental internal differences. amid growing calls for economic sanctions against Israel in view of the worsening humanitarian toll of its military operations in Gaza, EU trade ministers briefly discussed the issue this week but remained far from deciding on actual steps.

Notably, Ukraine's allies face key decisions on military aid after Zelenskyy warns of painfully slow decision-making.

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