At least two European countries, both on Ukraine’s border, seem open to providing some of the weapons that Zelensky wants. Slovakia, which owns S-300 missile systems, has said it is willing to send them to Ukraine, while Poland has offered to send MIG fighter planes. But both countries want the transfers to be part of a larger agreement that includes the U.S. or NATO — so that Slovakia and Poland, suddenly without key weapons, do not feel more vulnerable to a Russian attack.
The Biden administration has blocked both deals, out of a concern over Putin’s reaction. Some members of Congress have criticized the administration for not being more willing to take risks to help Ukraine, as Josh Rogin of The Washington Post has explained.
Before the evidence of atrocities emerged, the administration could point out that Ukraine was winning the war without the more aggressive weapon systems. That may still be true. But the human costs of a long Russian occupation of Ukraine have become clearer in the past few days.
What’s next: NATO foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels tomorrow and may discuss further military help for Ukraine.
Biden and European leaders have both vowed to enact additional economic penalties on Russia in response to the atrocities. “This guy is brutal,” Biden said, suggesting he would soon announce new sanctions.
For Europe, the biggest potential step would involve a reduction in the purchase of Russian natural gas. (This Times graphic shows why.)
Lithuania said this past weekend that it had stopped importing any natural gas from Russia, and some officials elsewhere have called for similar measures. “You can’t constantly support a great power like Russia with billions in payments from the purchase of energy,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s deputy prime minister, said.