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Zelenskyy in Albania in Latest Push for Defense Support


Ukrainian president promotes idea of joint arms production at two-day summit of Southeast European countries.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has tried to drum up Balkan support for his vision of peace in Ukraine and has promoted the idea of joint arms production at a two-day summit of Southeast European countries.

The meeting was held in the Albanian capital, Tirana, as Kyiv is trying to improve its defensive capabilities to beat back Russian forces at a time of faltering US support a little more than two years into Russia’s full-scale invasion.

“We are interested in co-production with you and all our partners” Zelenskyy told delegations from Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Moldova in his opening remarks at the summit on Wednesday.

“There are about 500 defence companies operating in Ukraine. Each of them adds strength, but it is not enough to win [against Russian President Vladimir] Putin. We see the problems with the supply of ammunition, which affects the situation on the battlefield.”

Zelenskyy proposed organising a Ukrainian-Balkans defence forum in Kyiv or a Balkan capital to nurture arms cooperation, repeating similar initiatives conducted last year with British and US weapons companies.

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

Zelenskyy said he had invited all Balkan leaders to take part in a summit of partners and allies in Switzerland this spring that would discuss his vision of peace, which entails a Russian military withdrawal from all Ukrainian territory.

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