NATO is meeting on Tuesday to mobilize much-needed support for Ukraine.
Foreign ministers from countries in the Western military alliance will meet in Romania to discuss how they can help Ukraine after Russian strikes on its power grids ahead of winter.
But the meeting place – Bucharest – is hugely important given Russia’s war in Ukraine.
It was here, in April 2008, that former US President George W. Bush persuaded NATO allies that Ukraine and Georgia would one day join the military alliance.
Moscow invades Georgia four months later.
Some experts describe Bucharest’s decision as a massive mistake that left Russia feeling cornered by a seemingly ever-expanding NATO.
NATO counters that it does not push countries to join and that some have applied for membership to seek Russian protection – as Finland and Sweden are currently doing.
“Winter as a weapon of war”
Officials will meet over the next two days at the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest.
NATO leaders are likely to make further pledges of non-lethal support to Ukraine, including fuel, generators, medical supplies, winter gear and drone jamming devices.
Ukraine’s critical infrastructure has been hammered by Russian strikes in recent weeks, cutting off electricity and water supplies for long periods.
Ahead of the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “trying to use winter as a weapon of war” and that Ukraine should be “prepared for further attacks”. .
“flee or freeze” This winter.
Individual allies also seem ready to promise more military supplies, especially new air defense systems that Kyiv desperately wants to protect its civilians and military.
NATO has so far been hesitant to supply Ukraine with such equipment or weapons capable of deeply striking Russian territory, not wishing to stir up a wider conflict.
Foreign ministers will also explore the future.
“In the longer term, we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO standards, doctrine and training,” Stoltenberg said last week.
This will help Ukraine’s armed forces meet NATO membership criteria and better integrate into the alliance, if admitted.
The chances of Ukraine joining NATO are slim in the short to medium term, as the country is still at war and occupied by a foreign power.
Promises that Ukraine could join NATO 14 years ago were controversial, with Putin describing it at the time as a “direct threat” to his country’s security.
At a press conference on Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed the importance of investing in defense “as we face our biggest security crisis in a generation”.
“We can’t let Putin win,” he said after meeting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
“It would show authoritarian leaders around the world that they can achieve their goals using military force – and would make the world a more dangerous place for all of us. It is in our own security interest to support Ukraine.”