More nations have made commitments to provide new military assistance to Ukraine to support the country’s forces to defend against Russian aggression.
Addressing the 13th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels, Belgium, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had urged the member nations “to continue to dig deep to provide Ukraine with the air-defense assets and munitions that it so urgently needs to protect its citizens”.
That support will need to continue for the long haul as “Ukraine’s fight is a marathon, not a sprint,” he told representatives of the alliance of 54 countries.
Germany and Poland committed to help sustain Ukraine’s new Leopard tanks, Austin said.
Canada will send Ukraine more than 200 air-defense missiles as part of its $500 billion commitment.
The United States, United Kingdom, Denmark and the Netherlands contributed funding for additional air-defense missiles for Ukraine.
Italy also announced its latest tranche of military assistance, and Norway and Germany announced multiyear security assistance packages.
Denmark announced nearly $2.6 million for Ukraine military assistance through 2024.
The Netherlands and Denmark shared progress made on their plans to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16s.
For some time, F-16s were not on the table for Ukraine. But recently, the U.S. agreed that partner nations can train Ukrainians on use of the aircraft.
The F-16 is a single-engine, supersonic, multirole tactical fighter jet plane that can outmaneuver most other warplanes, while also carrying almost any bomb or missile in the U.S. Air Force’s arsenal.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has been saying that Ukraine is badly in need of F-16 fighters to counter increasing pressure from Russian attacks.
“We remain laser-focused on meeting Ukraine’s urgent needs for ground-based, air-defense systems,” said Austin, who also serves as chairman of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
The US Defense chief said the Ukraine Defense Contact Group is united in its commitment to provide Ukraine with the training and the equipment to help it succeed on the battlefield.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said that since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the United States has trained more than 11,000 Ukrainians in combined-arms maneuver and staff training.
In all, nearly 60,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained by allies and partners.
Pledges of additional military assistance come as Russia has ruthlessly ramped up its missile and drone attacks over the past month against Ukrainian cities, killing dozens of civilians.
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