By Kris Becker 1 and Olivier Dupuis
It makes for quite a list. 15 March: Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Polish prime minister and deputy prime minister; Petr Fiala and Janez Jansa, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers. 1 April: Ingrida Šimonytė, prime minister of Lithuania. 1 April: Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament. 8 April: Eduard Heger, prime minister of Slovakia. 8 April: Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. 9 April: Boris Johnson, prime minister of the UK. 13 April: Gitanas Nausėda, Andrzej Duda, Alar Karis and Egils Levits, presidents of Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Latvia. 20 April: Charles Michel, president of the European Council. 21 April: Pedro Sanchez and Mette Frederiksen, prime ministers of Spain and Denmark. 25 April: Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, and Lloyd Austin, US secretary of defence. 26 April: Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, prime minister of Romania. 28 April: Kiril Petkov, prime minister of Bulgaria. 8 May: Andrej Plenković, prime minister of Croatia. 8 May: Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada. 30 June: Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia. 21 May: António Costa, prime minister of Portugal. 26 May: Sanna Marin, prime minister of Finland. 31 May: Zuzana Caputova, president of Slovakia. 11 June: Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. 16 June: Emmanuel Macron, president of France; Mario Draghi, prime minister of Italy; Olaf Scholz, chancellor of Germany; and Klaus Iohannis, president of Romania. 17 June: Boris Johnson, prime minister of the UK. 21 June: Xavier Bettel, prime minister of Luxembourg. 2 July: Jonas Gahr Støre, prime minister of Norway. 4 July: Magdalena Andersson, prime minister of Sweden. 4 July: Anthony Albanese, prime minister of Australia. 6 July: Micheál Martin, prime minister of Ireland. 12 July: Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands. 26 July: Alejandro Gianmattei, president of Guatemala. 24 August: Boris Johnson, British prime minister.
The list is of the VIPs who have visited Kyiv since the start of the new Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Among them are most of the heads of state and government of EU member states. Not all of them, unfortunately. A few are absent, including – not surprisingly – Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister. Also absent is Alexander De Croo, the prime minister of Belgium.
Is the latter hostage to one or other component of his government? The fact remains that Belgian military supplies to Ukraine amount to only 80 million and represent less than a third of those to Estonia and Latvia, less than 5% of those to Poland 2 and less than half of those to the Netherlands, if one disregards the difference in Belgian and Dutch criteria for estimating the value of the equipment supplied. If one takes into account that in Belgium the value is established on the basis of a retail resale whereas in the Netherlands the equipment is valued at scrap price, the amount of Belgian military aid is less than 10% of that of the Netherlands.
As the days and months go by, this soulless and featureless policy of Belgium makes it increasingly difficult for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to concretely show Belgium’s solidarity with Ukraine by visiting Kyiv.
Unless. Unless the Belgian government resumes the generosity it showed last year when it offered the scientific research ship Belgica I 3 to Ukraine. On a different scale, of course.
Belgium could give Ukraine some much needed trucks. 1000 Unimog and Volvo trucks. Many of these trucks are already in reserve. And those still in service will be gradually replaced, at a rate of 200 per year, by new DAF trucks 4, the first of which took part in the National Day parade on 21 July.
As this is non-lethal equipment, such an offer would also have the advantage of allowing certain political forces to remain within their ideological comfort zone.
- Kris Beckers is Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Belgium and President of the Belgian-Ukrainian Business Club ↩
- « Après six mois de guerre, quels sont les pays ayant le plus aidé l’Ukraine financièrement ? », Pierre Breteau, Le Monde, 24 August 2022 ↩
- An initiative supported by many Ukrainian and Belgian actors and, in particular, by Thomas Dermine, Secretary of State for Science Policy. ↩
- These include 879 trucks, of which 636 are ‘light’, two-axle trucks with a 4×4 transmission, intended for general transport tasks, and 243 are ‘heavy’ trucks with a four-axle, 8×8 transmission. ↩