How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, June 18

Sasha Sverdlova

The Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal writes about the needs and supplies of rockets for Ukraine. As the battle for Donbas has been ongoing for over two months now, it is a mystery why the U.S is halting multiple-launch rocket systems much needed in Ukraine. According to Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman, the Luhansk oblast could fall within weeks if Ukraine does not get longer-range artillery. The outlet cites a Ukrainian military advisor, who said Ukraine needs 60 systems to ensure Russians lose the ability to advance anywhere. So far, the U.S has offered only 4 systems, which won’t reach the battlefield with trained crews until the end of June. Brits and Germans offered three systems as of today. The U.S is also withholding rockets with the most extended range fearing Ukrainians would strike into Russian territory. The stakes are high, and only immediate support to Ukraine ensuring a sufficient number of right weapons would be able to get Putin to the negotiating table with any hope of cease-fire on Ukrainian terms.

The Guardian writes about a “Freedom for Russia” legion fighting for Ukraine. The particular military unit is part of the Ukrainian armed forces. It is made up entirely of Russian nationals, who believe that Putin’s defeat is the only chance for Russiaʼs better future. One of the legion fighters is 50-years old former vice-president of Gazprombank Igor Volobuyevm, who was born in Sumy oblast. Volobuyev is the only open member of the legion, as the others are very secretive to minimize risks for their families and friends. The information about the number of fighters in the unit is also kept secret. Another Russian citizen, Maxim Motin, who fled Russia back in 2018 after threats from Russian security services, set up the production of body armor vests and helmets in the early days of full-scale war. Motin is not hesitant to help the Ukrainian army fight against his homeland as he believes Russia has to lose this war.

Associated Press published an interview with President Biden, where he spoke about the failure of Putin’s goal of preventing NATO from expanding by invading Ukraine. "The reason Putin said he was going to go in was because he didnʼt want them to join NATO," Biden said. "He wanted the sort of the Finlandization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland, instead." Finlandization is a term that means staying neutral in return for security guarantees and refers to Cold War era relations between the Soviet Union and Finland. The war is also tough on the West, as the war has caused a global oil crisis, rising gas prices, and overall high inflation. President Biden says that the consequences of supporting Kyiv were worth it as “the option of doing nothing was worse”. This “worse” includes both the increased threat of Russia targetting other countries in the region and broader risks of sending dangerous signals to China about Taiwan and to North Korea. "Iʼve done foreign policy my whole career. Iʼm convinced that if we let Russia roll and Putin roll, he wouldnʼt stop," Biden said.

The Financial Times writes about the meaning of a recent visit of the French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian prime minister Mario Draghi to Kyiv. The leaders have voiced support for Ukraine and backed Ukraine’s intention to join the EU. While the gesture was impressive in terms of solidarity, it did not break the logjam in delivering heavy weapons – the most crucial need of Ukraine. The only new commitment came from Macron, who promised six additional Caesar howitzers. For Macron and Scholz, this visit was an excellent chance to improve their image at home: Macron shifted from the leader who warned the west “not to humiliate Putin” to one who explicitly said, “Ukraine must win the war”. Scholz received an appraising article in the German tabloid Der Bild, which previously was critical of chancellors’ reluctance to go to Ukraine. Western officials continue trying to manage Ukrainian expectations when it comes to weaponry delivery, writes the FT. However, the need for heavy weapons is urgent, and there are still no deliveries made from Germany.