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Austrian president tells Ukraine’s Zelensky Vienna cannot send weapons to Kiev

The country neglected our defense industry for decades, Alexander Van der Bellen admits

KIEV, February 1. /TASS/. Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen sees no possibility to supply Ukraine with weapons due the underdevelopment of Austria’s defense industry, Van der Bellen said at a joint news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky on Wednesday, according to a video posted on the Ukrainian presidential office’s Telegram channel.

"I have to admit that we have neglected our defense industry for decades. So we don’t see any possibility to send [weapons]," Van der Bellen said when asked by Ukrainian reporters about the possibility of Vienna providing Kiev with weapons.

"We are trying to do it on the level of the European Union. We do not want to interfere with others sending weapons to Ukraine," the Austrian president said, adding that Austria’s neutral status is enshrined in its constitution and currently, there are no political preconditions to change that.

For his part, Zelensky said that he had informed his Austrian counterpart about the situation in the war zone and about Ukraine’s needs, including anti-drone guns, electronic warfare systems and other non-lethal equipment. According to Zelensky, Austria can help Ukraine by supplying these systems.

The Austrian and Hungarian defense ministers - Klaudia Tanner and Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky - said on Monday that Vienna and Budapest would not send weapons to Ukraine and would prefer to avoid an escalation of the ongoing conflict there.