Head of Ukrainian parliament thanks Belgium for support
During a visit to the Belgian parliament on Wednesday, the head of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, thanked Belgium for the support it has provided to Ukraine "from day one" and emphasised the need for continued support.
He said: "This war can only end with a victory for Ukraine on the ground. The more you support us, the faster peace will return."
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago, Belgium has shown support by participating in the international F-16 coalition, developing a mechanism to trace Russian diamonds and establishing a support fund indirectly funded by the interest of frozen Russian assets in Belgium. Additionally, it has supplied generators and recently allocated 2.5 million euros to install solar panels on Ukrainian hospital roofs.
With winter approaching, Stefanchuk warned about potential tactics by Russia, saying: "There are many reasons to believe that Russia will want to use the winter as an instrument of terror."
He also expressed his concern about the "fatigue" threatening the Western world in relation to the war. He said he recognised the strain on Europe but implored them not to concede to Russia and likened the situation to the Munich Agreement of 1938 when France and Britain made concessions to Hitler.
"A year later, the Second World War began. History has shown that making concessions to a dictator is not a good solution. It will not stop the war; it will only fuel Russia's war hunger," he said.
In the lead-up to Belgium's presidency of the EU, beginning in January, several Ukrainian officials have visited the country. In October, president Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to Brussels.
"History has shown that making concessions to a dictator is not a good solution. It will not stop the war; it will only fuel Russia's war hunger"
A month later, Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba met his Belgian counterpart, Hadja Lahbib. On Tuesday, Stefanchuk met the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, before being received on Wednesday by the leaders of the Chamber, Senate and Foreign Relations Committee, Eliane Tillieux, Stephanie D'Hose and Els Van Hoof.
Next month, European leaders must decide whether to initiate negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU. During a visit to Kyiv, European Council president Charles Michel warned that the decision was not straightforward.
Stefanchuk called on Belgium to support the start of negotiations. "A historic decision will be made," he said, pointing out that his country does not want to limit its support to Western institutions. "An even more important decision will be to invite Ukraine to join NATO. We have been at war for 644 days. We have shown that we can be a NATO member."
Stephanie D'Hose, Ruslan Stefanchuk and Eliane Tillieux © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND