Zelenskyy seeks more ammunition support at southeastern European summit in Albania

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, foreground, and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana, Albania, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, foreground, and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana, Albania, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Copyright AP Photo/Armando Babani
Copyright AP Photo/Armando Babani
By Katy Dartford with AP
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The summit aims to build further support for Kyiv among southeastern European countries as signs of war fatigue grow

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Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, pleaded for more ammunition to repel Russian advances at a summit he co-hosted in Albania on Wednesday.  

Zelenskyy said that increasing the supply of armaments, and especially ammunition, was paramount for Ukraine just over two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion:

“I think this is the question of: Will we stand or not,” he said during his speech to the summit.

Zelenskyy arrived in Albania overnight to join a summit of eleven countries from southeastern Europe, along with officials from the European Union and other international organisations. 

During his visit to Tirana, Zelenskyy signed a friendship and cooperation agreement with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

In a statement posted on social media on Wednesday, Zelenskyy called Rama “Ukraine’s unwavering friend” adding the two would “discuss defence and political cooperation, support for the Peace Formula, and security agreements.”

He also awarded Rama with the “Yaroslav the Wise” medal for his contribution to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy's visit is the latest stop in an international tour that saw him in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to push for a peace plan and the return of prisoners of war from Russia.

In Tirana, he sought to build solidarity among his country and those of the Western Balkans, saying that all of them deserved to be members of the European Union and NATO if they chose.

“The European Union and NATO have provided Europe with the longest and most reliable era of security and economic development, and we are all equally worthy of being a part of the European and Euro-Atlantic communities,” Zelenskyy said.

Securing further support is key to Ukraine’s leader while his country faces these battlefield challenges. Zelenskyy on Sunday announced that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in action since Russia’s invasion, the first time that Kyiv had confirmed the number of its losses.

He acknowledged, again, in Tirana that “the problems with the supply of ammunition" were impacting the situation on the battlefield.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009 and a candidate for EU membership has voiced its full support for Kyiv against Russia’s invasion. It has provided military assistance in the form of ammunition and training for the Ukrainian military. It was among the first countries to offer shelter to Ukrainian refugees. It has joined international sanctions against Russian officials and institutions.

Rama wrote on Facebook that he was proud to welcome Zelenskyy for “a solidarity meeting and to further the commitment of our democracies against Russian aggression.”

As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the last two years, Albania joined the US in initiating resolutions against Russia’s invasion.

Zelenskyy said all of the countries at the summit must remain vigilant over what Russian President Vladimir Putin does next.

“The interaction between us, between neighbours, between neighbouring regions, between all partners, has become a factor that along with the resilience of our people in Ukraine, does not allow Putin to prevail,” Zelenskyy said.

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