Allies to help Ukraine advance amid spring counteroffensive, Pentagon chief says

14 February, 03:33 PM
Austin said that allies will provide new support to Ukraine in terms of unity and urgency (Photo:Johanna Geron/Reuters)

Austin said that allies will provide new support to Ukraine in terms of unity and urgency (Photo:Johanna Geron/Reuters)

The allies will help Ukraine hold and advance during the spring counteroffensive, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during opening remarks at the ninth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Feb. 14.

According to Austin, even in the face of setbacks, Ukraine has shown that it will prevail.

“And more countries have rushed to help Ukraine fight for its territory, its sovereignty, and its freedom,” he said.

“And together, this Contact Group has made it clear that we will support Ukraine’s fight for freedom over the long haul – and help Ukraine hold and advance during the spring counteroffensive.”

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The Pentagon chief added that with “unity and urgency, we will again deliver the support that we have promised to Ukraine.”

“We will put capabilities into the hands of trained Ukrainian forces so that they can be integrated together on the battlefield,” the official added.

Austin also stressed that Ukraine needs increased military aid, and both the United States and NATO allies are ready to support Kyiv in the long term.

He also called the war unleashed by Russia “a test for the ages,” while Russia did not prevail in its attempt to seize Kyiv and overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government.

The ninth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (known as the “Ramstein format” meeting) is taking place at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Feb. 14 with the participation of representatives of the defense departments of more than 50 countries.

Ukraine is traditionally represented by a team consisting of representatives of the Defense Ministry, intelligence services, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and diplomats.

On Feb. 8, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an official visit to the United Kingdom. The Ukrainian president met with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and addressed the Parliament.

Following his visit, the UK government announced that it would start training Ukrainian pilots and marines. In addition, London unleashed a new round of sanctions targeting Kremlin elites and entities providing military equipment.

Sunak also assured that the United Kingdom would support Ukraine until victory over Russia. In turn, following the negotiations with Sunak, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine would receive a “powerful” defense package from the United Kingdom, including the supply of long-range weapons.

Commenting on the possibility of providing Ukraine with combat aircraft, Sunak said that nothing can be ruled out when it comes to military support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Germany, after much hesitation, on Jan. 25 approved the transfer of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and their re-export from partner countries. The same day, the United States announced that it would send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the first tanks could be sent to Ukraine by the end of March.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Jan. 31 that Ukraine would receive 120-140 modern Western tanks in the first wave of deliveries.

At the same time, Zelenskyy said that the Ukrainian defenders need 300-500 tanks to launch an offensive.

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