Kyiv criticised for lack of gratefulness at Nato summit; foreign volunteers describe fighting Russian mercenaries
Zelenskiy fails in effort to secure Nato invitation
Volodymyr Zelenskiy failed in a last-ditch effort to secure an invitation for Ukraine to join Nato after leaders of the 31 countries signed off on a declaration that did not give a firm timetable or clear conditions for its eventual membership.
The frustrated Ukrainian president had accused Joe Biden and other leaders present at a summit in the Lithuanian capital of showing disrespect and complained that there was “no readiness” to invite his country to join, Dan Sabbagh reported from Vilnius.
But the dramatic lunchtime intervention on Tuesday had no impact on the final summit communique, issued a few hours later. It said that while “Ukraine’s future is in Nato”, the alliance would only “extend an invitation to Ukraine” when Kyiv had completed certain “democratic and security sector reforms”.
When Zelenskiy arrived at the summit on Wednesday morning, it was clear some recalibration was needed to avoid a disappointment becoming a falling-out. US and UK officials accused Kyiv of failing to show enough gratitude, Dan reported. At a press conference, the Ukrainian president appeared serious and reserved and was careful to spell out he was grateful to Biden, the US Congress and the American people. “We highly appreciate this,” he said.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ukraine’s top security official later dismissed criticism of Kyiv from British defence secretary Ben Wallace, suggesting Wallace had misspoke due to a surfeit of emotion. “I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what he said,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s security council told Shaun Walker, Nick Hopkins and Jamie Wilson in Kyiv.
Cluster bombs arrive in Ukraine
Cluster munitions provided by the United States have now arrived in Ukraine, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday. The munitions – bombs that open in the air and release scores of smaller bomblets, as explained by Léonie Chao-Fong – are seen by the US as a way to get Kyiv critically needed ammunition to help bolster its offensive and push through Russian frontlines. US leaders debated the thorny issue for months, before President Joe Biden made the final decision last week, as David Smith and Luke Harding reported.
Rishi Sunak ruled out supplying Ukraine with cluster bombs, Luke and Michael Savage wrote, saying the UK will not follow the Biden administration’s controversial move and will instead press countries to boost their aid to Kyiv “in other ways”.
The decision to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine risks costing the US its “moral leadership” in world affairs, the influential California Democratic congresswoman Barbara Lee said, as reported by Martin Pengelly and Maya Yang. The Guardian, in an editorial, wrote that supplying the bombs was not just a “difficult” decision, but the wrong one.
The foreign volunteers fighting in Ukraine
Alan, a 58-year-old British former marine, says he has no qualms about firing at Russian mercenaries. “These people are going to kill my friends. If I happen to hit them with a bullet so be it,” he told Luke Harding for a report about foreign volunteers in Ukraine. He added: “Some are completely untrained. They run at you without any concept of self-preservation. It’s as if they are drugged. Most of the Ukrainian guys directly on the frontline are young, in their early twenties. They are very, very good soldiers.”
Earlier this year Alan’s battalion, the Da Vinci Wolves Gonor unit, spent months in close combat with Wagner fighters. His task was to keep open the “road of life” – a crucial supply route to the eastern city of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian forces at the time were battling with Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mercenaries. The fighting raged street by street.