Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced the approval of President Joe Biden for the transfer of $675 million worth of U.S. military capabilities to Ukraine, but the emphasis of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany is on providing long-term support to the country in the face of the Russian invasion.
Austin convened the in-person meeting of the group and said that the more than 50 nations that are part of the group are determined to boost the efforts to help Ukraine.
Austin informed the group that Austin told the group that President Joe Biden had approved the latest tranche of U.S. assistance to Ukraine. This is the 20th pulldown of equipment out of U.S. stocks for Ukraine since August 2021.
“The latest package includes more , 105-millimeter howitzers, artillery ammunition and , Humvees, armored ambulances, anti-tank systems, small arms and more,” he added. “And since our last meeting in July, many allies and partners have come forward with their own important new deliveries of advanced radars, tanks, and armored personnel carriers.”
Austin and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Oleksii Reznikov, Ukrainian defense minister and Lt. Gen. Yevhen Moisiuk, Ukrainian deputy chief of defense, before the group met. The Ukrainians gave updates on combat conditions in the country and their military requirements.
It is the fifth gathering of the contact group which first met at Ramstein in April. At the moment, Ukraine had stopped Russian attacks on Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Kyiv.
“In late April, Russia shifted to massive artillery strikes against sovereign Ukrainian territory in the Donbas,” Austin stated in his opening remarks. “And this contact group responded swiftly to the changing character of Russia’s war of choice.”
The United States committed unprecedented security assistance to Ukraine including Stinger anti-aircraft systems armored personnel vehicles, launchers of grenades, Mi-17 helicopters body armor, as well as millions of rounds of ammunition for small arms.
The secretary used the transfer of howitzers to illustrate the aid flowing into Ukraine. “In April, the United States delivered our first batch of M-777 howitzers — introducing NATO-standard artillery pieces to Ukraine for the first time,” the secretary said. “Today, the United States has delivered 126 of those howitzers. And along with countries around the world, we’ve increased the number of howitzer systems for Ukraine’s defenders by more than 18-fold.” This has helped to stop the Russian offensive in the Donbas region.
Since then, further capabilities like 26 long-range rocket artillery systems and guided multiple launch rockets have arrived.
“All these capabilities have demonstrably helped Ukraine fight back against Russia’s aggression,” he declared. “And they have enabled Ukraine to resist Russia’s ongoing onslaught. So we have come a long way by working together.”
However, more must be done. Russia continues to bomb Ukrainian civilians and cities with missiles and artillery fire. However, the nature of conflict is changing, and Ukrainian forces have launched an offensive to counterattack Russia in the southern region of the country, the secretary said.
“They are integrating the capabilities that we all have provided to help themselves to fight and reclaim their sovereign territory,” Austin said. “Today, this contact group needs to position itself to sustain Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul.”
The world must give Ukraine the capability it requires to fight in the present but it also needs the means and training to protect the country in the future and deter Russia. “It means moving urgently to innovate, and to push all of our defense industrial bases to provide Ukraine with the tools that it will need for the hard road ahead,” Austin said. “We’re here because we refuse to live in a world where big powers trample borders by force. Our support for Ukraine’s bedrock right to defend itself doesn’t waver based on any given clash.”
The conflict in Ukraine is changing, according to the secretary, “and so is the mission of this Contact Group.”
The secretary also said that the group should consider the possibility of providing long-term assistance to Ukraine. “We’ll work together to train Ukraine’s forces for the long haul,” the secretary declared. “We’ll work together to help integrate Ukraine’s capabilities and bolster its joint operations for the long haul. We’ll work together to upgrade our defense industrial bases to meet Ukraine’s requirements for the long haul. And we’ll work together for production and innovation to meet Ukraine’s self-defense needs for the long haul.”
Ukraine is making strides against a larger foe. “And every day, we see the resolve of the allies and partners worldwide who are helping Ukraine resist Russia’s illegal, imperial and indefensible war of conquest,” he said. “And we must evolve as the fight evolves.”
Significant contributions have come from many other countries. Britain has donated 2.3 billion pounds worth of equipment to Ukraine. Germany as well as Denmark have both announced significant aid packages to the military. Poland — an ally of Russia — has handed over three battalions with 155 mm self-propelled howitzers Ukraine.