German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says NATO will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons in the war against Russia for "as long as necessary".
“It is good that the countries that are gathered here but many others, too, make their contributions so Ukraine can defend itself - by providing financial means, humanitarian aid but also by providing the weapons that Ukraine urgently needs,” Scholz said upon arrival in Madrid for the second day of a NATO summit.
"The message is: We will continue to do so – and to do this intensively – for as long as it is necessary to enable Ukraine to defend itself."
The G7 leaders recently agreed to continue supporting Ukraine, both militarily and financially.
It came after Ukraine's embattled president Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked NATO leaders for modern weapons and funds to support the country's fight against Russia, warning the fighting could spill beyond its borders and into their countries.
He made the remarks while virtually addressing the NATO summit on Wednesday, dubbing the fight as “a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe – for what the future world order will be like”.
“The question is – who is next for Russia? Moldova? The Baltic States? Poland? The answer is all of them,” Zelenskyy told the summit. “We need to break the Russian artillery advantage … We need much more modern systems, modern artillery.”
On Tuesday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned the Western countries that continuing to supply Ukraine with advanced weaponry will only prolong the conflict.
The top Russian diplomat said the position of the West regarding Ukraine is “absolutely counterproductive and harmful", adding that the more weapons are pumped into Ukraine, "the longer this conflict will last, the longer the agony of the Nazi regime which is supported by Western capitals will last."
“I am saying it to emphasize the fact that the longer weapons are supplied, which are designed to prolong the conflict, prolong the suffering of civilians who constantly live under shelling by the Ukrainian neo-Nazi movement, the more missions we will perform on the ground,” Lavrov said.
“Pumping up” Ukraine with Western weapons will only lead Russia “to perform more missions on the ground,” he said.
The United States and Ukraine’s other Western allies have been infusing Ukraine’s war machine with millions of dollars in modern weaponry since February, when Russia began what President Vladimir Putin labeled a “special military operation.”
Washington has pledged to provide Ukraine with precision rocket systems that are supposed to enable it to strike Russian positions from a longer range.
Senior officials in Moscow say the Russian operation is aimed at “demilitarizing” the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine, which together form the Donbas region.
In 2014, the two regions declared themselves new republics, refusing to recognize Ukraine’s Western-backed government.
Russia says it views the supply of weapons by the United States and its NATO allies to Ukraine as legitimate military targets.