London and The Hague form ‘international coalition’

British Prime Minister Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte have agreed to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.

Reykjavík: Rishi Sunak (r), Prime Minister of Britain, greets Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, during a bilateral meeting at the Council of Europe summit.

Reykjavík: Rishi Sunak (r), Prime Minister of Britain, greets Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, during a bilateral meeting at the Council of Europe summit.Alastair Grant/dpa

Britain and the Netherlands want to forge an “international coalition” to supply Ukraine with fighter jets. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had agreed on such a course of action, a spokesman for the British government said on Tuesday evening on the fringes of the Council of Europe summit. Ukraine should receive F-16 fighter jets and also be supported in training.

The summit meeting of the 46 states of the Council of Europe had started with declarations of solidarity for Ukraine, which had been attacked by Russia. At the opening of the summit on Tuesday evening in Reykjavik, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke out in favor of not letting the bridges to the “other Russia” beyond the government of President Vladimir Putin be torn down.

At some point, Russia’s war against Ukraine will end, said Scholz at the start of the top meeting, to which more than 30 heads of state and government were expected. “And one thing is certain: it will not end with a victory for Putin’s imperialism.” Because Ukraine will be supported until a just peace is achieved.

Olaf Scholz does not want to break the “bridges” to Russia and Belarus

“Until then, we as the Council of Europe should maintain bridges to the representatives of another Russia, another Belarus – and thus keep the prospect of a democratic, peaceful future for both countries open – no matter how unlikely it may seem to us today,” said Scholz. At the same time, he called for consistent punishment of Russian war crimes in Ukraine and systematic recording of the war damage caused by Russia. The Council of Europe could play an important role in this.

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 as the guardian of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe and is independent of the EU. Russia was excluded after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Belarus is only represented at the summit as an observer. It is only the fourth summit meeting of the Council of Europe in its more than 70-year history.

Register for recording war damage in Ukraine

A register for recording war damage in Ukraine is to be launched at the summit on Wednesday. Scholz assured Ukraine that he wanted to help advance EU accession. But that also applies to the states of the Western Balkans, Moldova and, in the future, Georgia. The Council of Europe, to which Ukraine belongs, could also be helpful here. The institution is probably more important today than ever before, he said with a view to the turning point in the wake of the Ukraine war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked his supporters via video link on Tuesday evening and emphasized European cohesion. “Russia is trying hard to improve its ability to kill. We make every effort to improve the protection of our population. And thank you to all the countries and leaders who are helping us improve our overall air defenses. We show what our 100 percent means and what the power of the free world means,” said Zelenskyy. “We are Europeans, so we value peace, we are Europeans, so we act with 100 percent of our strength when it comes to protecting our way of life,” Zelenskyy said.

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