About 40 countries are meeting in Germany on Tuesday, at the invitation of the United States, to strengthen the defense of Ukraine, which according to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “can win” against Russia, if given the means.
At a time when Russia is aiming for full control of southern Ukraine and the Donbass region, this meeting held at the US air base in Ramstein, western Germany, is intended to “generate additional capabilities for the Ukrainian forces,” Austin said on Monday, returning from a visit to Kyiv.
“They can win if they have the right equipment, the right support,” he said. he underlined after this trip during which he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The United States, which provides the bulk of international military aid to Ukraine, wants to “give them the kind of support, the kind of artillery and ammunition that will be effective at this stage of the fight”, clarified the head of the Pentagon at a press conference in Poland, not far from the Ukrainian border.
Kyiv is mostly clamoring for heavy artillery and armor in an attempt to repel Russian forces on the vast southern and eastern plains of the country, but the Russian-made equipment the Ukrainian forces were trained on is becoming scarce. /p>
Some Eastern European countries that still have them in stock send them to Kyiv, sometimes in exchange for new generation American weapons, as the journalists accompanying Mr. Austin in Poland saw .
Diapers and guns
The head of the Pentagon and Antony Blinken spoke to the press from a warehouse where tons of humanitarian and military aid were piled up ready to be loaded onto trucks for their transfer to Ukraine.
Not far from the pallets of medical equipment and diapers in front of which they were filmed were piled hundreds of Russian-made shells and rockets, donated by countries which generally want to remain discreet about their participation in the war effort Ukrainian.
Outside, seven vehicles towing the Howitzer guns, with a range of 30 km, awaited their transfer, in front of hundreds of carefully aligned pallets of shells and various ammunition.
But that is not enough not and the United States, which at the beginning of the Russian invasion limited its shipments to “defensive” weapons, began to send American-made heavy weaponry to Kyiv, such as howitzers and various armored vehicles.
“We are talking with colleagues from other countries to obtain the same kind of armament, and we are receiving early signs that show that many countries are going to volunteer,” assured the head of the Pentagon.
France has already announced that it is sending Caesar guns with a range of 40 kilometers, and the United Kingdom has donated Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles and armor.
Allies near and far
The meeting is also intended to ensure Ukraine's longer-term security once the war is over.
“It’s mostly about modernization and making sure their military is still strong and able to function in the future. These are not security guarantees, but their actual military posture,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday.
This meeting is not taking place in the framework of NATO, although the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, is to participate.
“NATO as an alliance does not provide military aid to the Ukraine, so this is not done within the framework of NATO at all,” Kirby stressed.
Among the 40 countries invited are the European allies of the United States, but also more distant countries such as Australia and Japan which fear that a Russian victory in Ukraine will set a precedent and encourage the territorial ambitions of China.
Finland and Sweden, traditionally neutral countries which considering NATO membership since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, are also on the guest list.