The United States and its European allies pledge to increase Ukraine’s military firepower | News of the war between Russia and Ukraine

The United States and some of its European allies announced large new arms donations to Ukraine, including armored vehicles and heavy weaponry, ahead of a crucial meeting on bolstering the country’s defenses nearly a year after Russia invaded.

The United States said the military support package – which includes armored personnel carriers, air defense systems, and tens of thousands of missiles and artillery shells – is worth about $2.5 billion. The US Department of Defense said in a statement on Thursday that there will be 59 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was “a significant new security assistance package to help Ukraine continue to defend itself against Russia’s brutal war”. He added that the latest package brings US military assistance to Ukraine to about $27.4 billion.

Earlier, the United Kingdom said, in a joint statement with defense ministers and representatives of nine European countries, that it would send 600 Brimstone missiles to Kyiv, while Denmark promised 19 French-made Caesar guns, and Sweden with its Archer artillery system, which is a modern portable device. I ordered a Ukraine howitzer months ago.

“We understand that preparing Ukraine to expel Russia from its territory is just as important as preparing Ukraine to defend what they already have,” the statement said.

Together, we will continue to support Ukraine in moving from resistance to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil. The new level of combat power required is only achieved through groups of main battle tank squadrons, under air and missile defense, working together with divisional artillery groups, and more deep precision fire enabling targeting of Russian logistics and command nodes in occupied territory.”

Interactive Who controls what in Ukraine
(Al Jazeera)

The remarks came ahead of a meeting of defense and other officials from nearly 50 countries, including all 30 NATO members, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss support for Kyiv amid fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine and continued Russian air strikes on its cities. .

Regarding the German talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Thursday that Kyiv expects “strong decisions” from the meeting.

“We are, in fact, now waiting for a decision from one of the European capitals, which will activate the chains of cooperation prepared for tanks,” Zelensky said in a video address.

“We are preparing for the Rammstein meeting tomorrow. We expect strong decisions. We expect a strong military aid package from the United States.

Kremlin warnings

Pressure is mounting on Germany to supply it with the modern Leopard 2 tanks, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government so far seems reluctant to allow their transfer for fear of provoking Moscow. Germany has veto power over any possible transfer.

The Kremlin warned on Thursday that sending heavy weapons capable of striking Russian territory would be considered an escalation.

“This is potentially very dangerous,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “It would mean bringing the conflict to a completely new level, which, of course, would not bode well from the point of view of global and European security.”

Ukraine and Russia have relied primarily on Soviet-era T-72 tanks, which have been destroyed by the hundreds during the war that began on February 24 last year when Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops across the border in what he continues to call a “special military operation”.

Two Kaiser howitzer systems on display by the Danish Army.  Their arms are pointed towards the sky and there are about a million men.
Denmark is among nine European countries, all NATO members, that supply more heavy weapons to Ukraine. The Danes said they would send the Kaiser Howitzer weapons system [File: Henning Bagger and Ritzau Scanpix/AFP]

Fearing that the colder months would give Russian forces time to regroup and launch a major offensive, Ukraine has stepped up calls for its allies to step up aid.

During his December trip to Washington, D.C., Zelensky told the US Congress that support for Ukraine is not charity but an investment in democracy.

Berlin appeared to have left open the possibility of allowing allies to supply Ukraine with the required tanks on Thursday, saying the situation “will become clear in the next few hours or tomorrow morning”.

Lithuania’s defense minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, told AFP that “some countries are going to send” Leopard tanks to Ukraine, promising “more news tomorrow” in the talks.

Ukraine’s western allies have been reluctant to transfer heavy weapons to avoid NATO emerging to confront Russia directly, but officials in Kyiv say the tanks are important if Ukraine is to retake Russian-occupied territory and defend itself from further attacks.

From Washington to London, from Paris to Warsaw, you hear one thing: Ukraine needs tanks. Tanks are the key to properly ending the war. “It’s time to stop trembling in front of Putin and take the last step,” Zelensky’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolak, said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, a US official told Reuters news agency on Thursday that CIA Director William Burns secretly traveled to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky, refusing to disclose the date of the visit.

The Washington Post, which first reported Burns’ trip, said the CIA director was in Ukraine last weekend and briefed Zelensky on how the United States sees Russia laying out its military plans in the coming weeks and months.

On Thursday evening, Ukrainian military officials said that fighting continued to be intense in the eastern industrial region known as Donbass.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Russian forces bombed the town of Pakhmut, Russia’s main focus in Donetsk Province, which includes Luhansk Province which forms the Donbass region.

Solidar, about 20 kilometers from Bakhmut, was bombed. Russian forces say they control the town, which is famous for its salt mines, while Ukraine says its army is still fighting there.

The Ukrainian military said Russian forces had shelled nearby towns, including Klychevka, just south of Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the commander of Russia’s mercenary army Wagner, said his forces had taken control of Klishchevka, a claim that Ukraine disputes.

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