Washington on Tuesday (26 April) said it would hold talks on a roughly monthly basis in Germany with allies inside and outside NATO to coordinate bolstering Ukraine’s defence capabilities as it battles Russia’s invasion.
The talks, hosted at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, were aimed to assess the current Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine and how to ensure a continuous flow of security assistance for Ukraine, including how to secure Ukraine’s long-term security and how it will defend itself after the war.
Organizers said over 40 countries were attending and a scan of the meeting room showed countries mainly from Europe but also beyond, including Israel, Australia, Kenya and Tunisia, with representatives from South Korea and Japan attending virtually. All EU and NATO members were among the participants.
The meeting marks a turning point in the consultation between Western allies which has taken the turn into an indirect military coalition.
Ukraine also reportedly gave information about its defence needs, calling for everything from artillery, drones and tanks to anti-ship missiles and combat aircraft.
“We need weapons. Modern weapons. A large number of modern heavy weapons,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted after the talks.
Speaking after the meeting, Austin told reporters that the forum would continue as a monthly “contact group” that would discuss Ukraine’s defence needs, which was rated as a sign that Kyiv is expected to face a lengthy military engagement with Russia.
“We do want to make it harder for Russia to threaten its neighbours and make it less able to do that,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
The talks secured pledges from allies to sustain aid to Ukraine’s military throughout this next phase of the war and for the long term, including from Germany, who for the first time, announced the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
“We decided yesterday that Germany will facilitate the delivery of Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine,” German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said at Ramstein.
Germany has also reached out to Eastern Europeans with the pledge to ensure that military stock gaps of Eastern European countries, who supply their Soviet equipment to Ukraine, will be replaced with NATO-standard equipment.
(Edited by Georgi Gotev)