Tusk schedules Ukraine summit with Macron and Scholz

Tusk schedules Ukraine summit with Macron and Scholz
Donald Tusk (left) and Olaf Scholz,meeting last month. / bne IntelliNews
By Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw March 14, 2024

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk is meeting French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on March 15 to discuss support for Ukraine in the wake of the continued obstruction of aid to Kyiv by Republicans in Washington, Tusk said on March 13 shortly after meeting US President Joe Biden.

Tusk was in the US with President Andrzej Duda to celebrate Poland’s 25 years in Nato but Russia’s war in Ukraine overshadowed the meeting. Tusk warned the Republicans and the Hose of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson personally that blocking $60bn in aid to Ukraine will cost “thousands of lives”.

Poland is among Europe’s staunchest allies of Ukraine despite major political differences with Kyiv over agricultural trade and transport policy. 

According to the Polish PM, only France, Germany and Poland – the so-called Weimar Triangle that sprang back to life under Tusk after an eight-year lull under the previous government of Law and Justice (PiS) – can “mobilise Europe” to boost help to Ukraine.

“I will talk to the president of France and the chancellor of Germany about the situation related to supporting Ukraine and blocking the support package by the American Congress,” Tusk told reporters in Washington.

“The situation is difficult, there is no point in denying it,” Tusk also said. 

Poland turned out sympathetic to Macron’s suggestion that no option – including sending Nato troops to Ukraine – must be discarded in the discussion about helping Ukraine. 

But Scholz consistently opposes the idea. The German leader also said several times that he would not agree to give Ukraine long-range Taurus missiles for fear of escalating the conflict.

Poland is worried, however, that not giving Ukraine support could lead to a Russian victory that could embolden the Kremlin to turn against the Baltic states and Poland next. 

After weeks of stagnation, however, the West appears to have mobilised – even if still not to the extent that is needed – to step up help to Ukraine.

Poland said this week that it will contribute “substantially” to a Czechia-led initiative to buy hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds for Ukraine, which has long signalled it is having to ration ammunition on the battlefield. 

The Czech plan is to deliver Ukraine some 800,000 rounds – an estimated four months’ worth of munitions for fighting the Russians.

European foreign ministers reached agreement on March 13 on a €5bn common fund to provide defence support to Ukraine, although some of this will not be new money, as states such as Germany can include half the value of their bilateral defence aid as part of their contribution.

The US also this week found $300mn in aid for Ukraine even though the amount is “not nearly enough,” Biden said, pointing to the Republican obstruction in Congress.

The Republicans block the aid, demanding the Biden administration yield on domestic policy issues. The stalemate also owes to the campaign ahead of the US presidential election later this year.

Tusk said that Biden assured him that a solution to the stalemate in Congress is coming.

"Let's be optimistic. I have no reason not to believe President Biden when he says 'Wait, I think we'll find a solution, and this aid will come,'" the Polish PM said.