US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the end of his appearance to the press Olivier Matthys (AP)
No one knows how long the war in Ukraine will last, but Ukraine’s western allies appear ready to send it arms, training and humanitarian aid to keep its war effort going for as long as possible. “We will keep it as long as necessary,” said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the end of his meeting with NATO defense ministers in Brussels when asked about the commitment to Ukraine. plus the rest of the countries supporting Ukraine, including Ecuador. Shortly before, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, had announced the largest ever shipment of war material worth $1,000 million (960 million euros) to the occupied country.
Austin produced two clear messages from this Wednesday afternoon’s meeting: the first is that NATO and NATO allies have sent many arms to Ukraine to help it defend against Russian invasion; second, that they are willing to continue to do so and even increase that aid with more and more sophisticated material. Austin echoed Biden’s announcement, adding what he heard at the meeting, such as Germany’s commitment to send three multiple-missile systems and guided munitions, which his branch minister, Christine Lambrecht, ratified on Twitter. The American also cited Slovakia’s announcement that it would send helicopters or new supplies of artillery from Poland, the Netherlands and Canada.
Further support of #Ukraine promised: Together with our allies 🇺🇸&🇬🇧 we will urgently deliver long-range multiple rocket launchers with ammunition to defend against the Russian war of aggression. Training on the system will now begin quickly. pic.twitter.com/DmCghxEJkF
— Ministry of Defense (@BMVg_Bundeswehr) June 15, 2022
These deliveries will be in addition to deliveries made to date, some of which both Austin and General Mark A. Miller, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, have given details of. The latter, for example, highlighted that the international community has supplied Ukraine with almost 97,000 anti-tank systems, “more than there are tanks in the world”. “They asked for 200 tanks. They’re 237,” he added. He also pointed out that his country sent 6,500 Javelin missiles, 1,500 Stingers, another 20,000 anti-tank systems… the list was long. And to this we must add the number of Ukrainian soldiers trained to use weapons such as drones.
Despite all of this, Austin, who was also a military man and was one of Miller’s predecessors, understands Ukraine’s constant demand for more military equipment: “General Miller and I have been in separate battles. And when you’re in a fight, you never get tired. You always want more. You always think you need more. And I was there. And so I understand where the Ukrainians come from. And we will fight hard to give them everything they need. And again, we want to make sure we’re focused on what they feel is necessary for this current fight and beyond.”
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“The international community has done a good job in providing these skills, but it is never enough. So we will continue to work hard to move as much capacity as possible, as quickly as possible, and ensure Ukraine is successful on the battlefield.”
This meeting was held taking advantage of the fact that this Wednesday and Thursday NATO defense ministers will meet for the last time before the Madrid Summit, which will decide the Alliance’s new strategic concept for the coming years and which is expected to consider applications for approval from Sweden and Finland play a major role. So far, both demands have collided with Turkey’s resistance, which is demanding changes in Sweden’s anti-terrorist policy. To overcome this resistance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in constant contact with all countries of the organization, especially Turkey. In fact, this Wednesday he had a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as he himself announced on Twitter.
Constructive conversation with the President @RTErdogan before the #NATO summit. We discussed the importance of addressing #Turkiye‘s legitimate security concerns in the fight against terrorism and progress on #BORN Admission procedure for #Finland & #Sweden.
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) June 15, 2022
Asked whether the situation will be resolved before arriving in Madrid on June 28, Stoltenberg stated before the meeting began that he was seeking a solution “as soon as possible so that Sweden and Finland could become members of the alliance”. “I can’t say when,” he clarified.
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