Brussels, Oct 12 (EFE).- The coalition of around 50 nations that make up the contact group on Ukraine’s defense are ready to maintain their support for the country’s most urgent and long-term defense capabilities, the United States defense secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday.
“We will continue to boost Ukraine’s defensive capabilities — for today’s urgent needs and for the long haul,” the Pentagon chief said in a speech at the start of the group’s sixth meeting at Nato headquarters ahead of a working dinner of the alliance’s defense ministers on Wednesday evening.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is also attending the meeting to give a first-hand account of his country’s requirements.
Austin said that recent attacks by Russian forces on urban centers and civilian infrastructure “deepened the determination of the Ukrainian people — and further united countries of goodwill from every region on Earth.”
The US defense secretary claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin was “trying to mobilize more forces and to claim sovereign Ukrainian territory for Russia” and is “using irresponsible threats and rhetoric”.
Austin pointed to the Contact Group countries, which remain “united, focused, and resolute” in providing Ukraine with the weaponry it needs, which “has made a demonstrable difference on the battlefield — over and over again”.
He pointed out that these countries have committed billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, as well as humanitarian and financial assistance, in addition to pushing for new investment in the industry to meet Kyiv’s defense requirements.
A fortnight ago, the US announced that it would send a new $1.1 billion military aid package to Ukraine, consisting of weapons and military equipment that includes 18 new High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), as well as hundreds of armored cars, radar and anti-drone batteries.
“And we are increasingly posturing ourselves to support Ukraine’s defense needs for the challenging months and years ahead,” Austin said.
Long-term support, he explained, means stepping up efforts to train “Ukrainian defenders to make the best use of their new capabilities” and “pushing our industrial bases to innovate”. EFE