This is a vote taken on Thursday, November 9, at a time when Kiev fears that weariness will gradually win over its allies and that their support, financial and military, will dwindle after the failure of its counter-offensive launched in June. Nearly half of budget spending in Ukraine will be devoted in 2024 to defense and security, according to the bill voted on Thursday by Parliament, after nearly two years of Russian invasion which devastated the country’s economy.
“Almost 50% of our spending is devoted to the defense and security of Ukraine: there will be even more weapons and equipment, more drones, ammunition, missiles,” said the Prime Minister. Minister Denis Chmygal following the vote. “All our internal resources will be used to resist and defeat the enemy,” he promised in a message published on Telegram.
Thus, defense and security spending will reach nearly 1,700 billion hryvnias (43.9 billion euros) next year, or 22.1% of GDP, according to the Ministry of Finance, a figure higher than the budget reserved for education, health and social benefits.
Vladimir Putin’s surprise visit to Rostov-on-Don
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a surprise visit overnight from Thursday to Friday to the Russian army headquarters for the Ukraine operation in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, announced the Kremlin. This is the Russian head of state’s second trip to Rostov in less than a month: he went at the end of October to speak with military officials about the Russian offensive. Vladimir Putin “visited the headquarters of the Russian armed forces in Rostov-on-Don, after completing his official visit to Kazakhstan” where he spent the entire day on Thursday, the Kremlin said in a statement.
During this trip, the Russian president was accompanied by his Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and the chief of staff and commander of military operations in Ukraine, Valéri Gerassimov, according to the same source. Vladimir Putin was presented with new military equipment and heard reports on the progress of the military operation in Ukraine, the statement added.
Close to Ukraine, Rostov-on-Don has become an operational center for Russian forces for the offensive in this former Soviet republic neighboring Russia. Vladimir Putin had already visited the military headquarters in this city last August and March. The city was also the scene of the spectacular mutiny of Wagner’s mercenaries in June, who briefly seized the army headquarters before putting a stop to their rebellion.
More than 20,000 vehicles blocked at the border between Ukraine and Poland
More than 20,000 vehicles are blocked Thursday at the border between Ukraine and Poland, which Polish truckers have been paralyzing since the beginning of the week to denounce “unfair” competition from their neighbors, announced the Ukrainian Ministry of Reconstruction.
Several dozen Polish transport companies began blocking three crossing points between the two countries on Monday. They are demanding in particular the restoration of entry permits for their Ukrainian competitors, in order to reduce their numbers.
Queues have only grown over the week and 20,000 vehicles are now “blocked on both sides” of the border, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Reconstruction. This harms the Ukrainian and Polish economies but also those of “other countries” which would like to transport goods, he regretted. Ukraine assured that it “respects the right to demonstrate”, while saying it is “ready for a constructive dialogue to resolve the situation”.
Russia says it doubts EU’s ‘real’ intentions towards Ukraine
Russia said on Thursday it doubted Brussels’ “real” intentions towards Kiev, the day after the European Commission’s decision to recommend the opening of EU membership negotiations for Ukraine. “It is unlikely that these are real promises,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, responding to a question from a Russian journalist who published the excerpt of their exchange on Telegram. Dmitri Peskov thus estimated that the promises from Brussels were “a carrot dangled” by the Twenty-Seven for Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the European Commission gave the green light to the opening of EU accession negotiations with Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the Commission’s “good” decision. “Our state must be in the EU. The Ukrainians deserve it,” he said.