(Ramstein) Ukraine’s allies, pressed by Volodymyr Zelensky to deliver more weapons and ammunition, met in Germany on Friday to coordinate their military aid to Kyiv, which says it is preparing a major counter-offensive.
Organized on the American base of Ramstein, in the south of Germany, by the American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the meeting also takes place in the presence of the head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who has just returned from Kyiv.
Mr. Stoltenberg spoke there on Thursday with President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has constantly called on the West to deliver more armor, artillery, ammunition, but also combat aircraft and firing systems. long range to hit Russian warehouses, far behind the front line.
“We feel the support of our partners,” said Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov before the opening of the meeting, welcoming the first anniversary of these allied meetings, where some fifty countries are represented.
“Together, we will ensure that Ukraine has everything it needs to live in freedom,” Mr. Austin said, assuring that Western support for Kyiv remained “strong”.
The issue of “ammunition and air defense tools” will be at the heart of the day’s discussions, he stressed.
Between insufficient stocks, fear of escalation and logistical problems, Europeans and Americans have been more cautious than Kyiv, targeted overnight by a drone attack that did not cause any casualties, would have liked.
Mr. Zelensky urged Mr. Stoltenberg to help him “overcome the reluctance of (our) partners regarding the delivery of certain weapons.”
The delivery of fighters to Ukraine divides support in Kyiv in particular, with Germany being particularly reluctant.
Slovakia and Poland began delivering Soviet-designed Mig-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.
But sending modern Western-designed aircraft has yet to be discussed. Several countries have shown overtures and a decision would be possible “before the summer”, the Danish Minister of Defense recently asserted.
The Alliance is however focused on the supply of ammunition and spare parts so that the systems already deployed in Ukraine “produce the desired effect”, Stoltenberg said on Friday upon his arrival at the base.
“It is now a battle of attrition and a battle of attrition becomes a war of logistics,” he explained.
Westerners have provided more than $150 billion in aid to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, including $65 billion in military aid, he said.
Ukraine announced this week that it had received the first American Patriot air defense systems, an operation coordinated by the United States, Germany and the Netherlands.
British and German heavy tanks have also been delivered since late March after being long requested by Kyiv.
Jens Stoltenberg’s visit to Kyiv was also an opportunity for Volodymyr Zelensky to press NATO to invite his country to join the Atlantic Alliance.
Mr. Stoltenberg reiterated the Alliance’s support for Ukrainian ambitions, saying that Kyiv’s “future” is in the “Euro-Atlantic family”, but said nothing about the timetable.
Mr. Stoltenberg said he “expects NATO allies to agree on a multi-year program to help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era equipment standards to NATO standards and doctrines and to ensure full interoperability” between Allies and Ukrainians.
Kyiv has been calling for membership in the Alliance for years, and even more so since the Russian invasion of February 2022, seeing it as the only real guarantee of its security against Moscow.
Favorable in principle to the integration of this country, NATO is on the other hand very vague on the deadlines, an entry into the organization risking provoking an escalation in the conflict because Russia considers such an enlargement as a red line. .
“The main goal is to make sure Ukraine wins because otherwise there is no sense in discussing membership,” Stoltenberg said.