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Reuters: Zelenskiy wants Balkan weapons from Tirana after weak support from the US

Reuters: Zelenskiy wants Balkan weapons from Tirana after weak support from the

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sought to drum up Balkan support for his vision for peace in Ukraine and promoted the idea of ​​joint arms production at a two-day summit of Southeast European countries on Wednesday.

The summit in the Albanian capital, Tirana, comes as Kiev is trying to improve its defense capabilities to defeat Russian forces at a time of weak US support more than two years since Russia's full-scale invasion.

"We are interested in co-production with you and all our partners," Zelenskiy told senior delegations from Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia, Moldova and Romania in his speech. of the opening.

"There are about 500 defense companies operating in Ukraine, each of them adds strength, but it is not enough to win (against Russian President Vladimir) Putin. We see problems with the supply of ammunition, which affects the situation on the battlefield."

Zelenskiy proposed organizing a Ukrainian-Balkan defense forum in Kiev or a Balkan capital to foster arms cooperation, echoing similar initiatives carried out last year with British and American arms companies.

Albania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Romania are members of NATO, have joined Western sanctions against Russia and have sent weapons and equipment to Ukraine. There are significant arms industries in parts of the Balkans, particularly in Serbia and Croatia, a legacy of the former federal Yugoslavia.

Moscow's old ally Serbia has not imposed sanctions and neither Belgrade nor Kiev recognize the independence of Kosovo, which supports Ukraine and is seeking membership in the European Union and NATO.

A joint statement signed by 10 countries at the summit said their leaders were willing to attend a Ukrainian-led peace summit in Switzerland this spring to discuss Zelenskiy's vision for peace.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Zelenskiy held talks and signed an Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation between Ukraine and Albania, the leaders said.

Zelenskiy told a news conference that whenever arms supplies to Ukraine were delayed, it was a "gift" to Russia's Putin, an apparent allusion to the months-long impasse in the US Congress over providing more aid to Kiev.

The other leaders reiterated their support for Kiev in a joint statement, saying they were ready "to participate in the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine after the war in order to enable the Ukrainian people to rebuild their country." . Reuters

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