The United States-led defense meeting composed of 43 countries was held at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany in an effort to rally more financial and military support for Ukraine last Tuesday. The Ramstein defense meeting is the first major meeting for defense ministers from all around the world to discuss support for Kyiv, with some countries attending virtually.
“As we see this morning, nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here.”
Among those that led the meeting for the “Ukraine Defense Consultative Group” alongside Austin was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Air Force General Tod D. Wolters, the most senior military officer stationed in Europe.
With the invasion on its 8th week, the Russians have made little significant success in its conquest to “liberate” Donbas. However, this does not mean the Russian forces are to be underestimated. Russia was seen to be employing actual combined arms combat in the eastern region of Ukraine, a tactic that they did not successfully do during the first phase of their war.
This means that the battlefield and environment have shifted, calling for new weapons and support for the Ukrainians to repel any Russian advances into their territory successfully. While numerous countries have already donated financial resources and heavy military weaponry to Ukraine in the past couple of weeks, much more is needed to defeat the Russian onslaught.
The US currently leads the supporting role for Ukraine, donating $3.7 billion in military and economic support since the war started on February 24th. Since January 2021, the US has invested more than $3.7 billion in total security assistance. This includes the recent $800 million military support package, which contained the Phoenix Drones, and the previous $800 million support package. The previous support package included Mi-17 helicopters, M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, 155mm Howitzers, and Javelins, to name a few.
Other western allies have been hesitant to provide heavy weaponry to Ukraine, with Poland following the US in terms of donations. Poland has been good about taking in Ukrainian refugees, but assistance to Ukraine so far has mostly been in the form of loan guarantees not weapons. However, the amount spent by European countries to aid Ukraine has not nearly been enough. The total commitment of the US to Ukraine’s defense is on the order of $7.7 billion, while the total of all contributions from the EU is just 1.7 billion Euros.
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) April 26, 2022
Austin appealed to its allies that there should be a sustained effort and flow of weapons and support to Ukraine. He emphasized that Ukraine needed to be strengthened for “the long haul.” The Defense Secretary also said that cooperation was necessary. There was serious demand for various munitions that would raise questions about “meeting our own requirements and those of our Allies and partners.”
He was possibly referencing a potential shortage in munitions in general, but it is probable that the Defense Secretary was talking about the Stingers that the US had sent to Ukraine. The US had sent some 1,400 Stinger missile systems to Ukraine since February 24. However, Raytheon is not producing these missiles anymore, with the Raytheon Chief Executive Gregory Hayes saying that the supply was bare.
“We don’t have any time to waste. The briefings today laid out clearly why the coming weeks will be so crucial for Ukraine. So we’ve got to move at the speed of war,” Austin stated.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark Milley emphasized the importance of this support. He stated that more security assistance was vital to the coming weeks of combat, which he described were “critical” weeks to come as they would be decisive.
“Time is not on Ukraine’s side,” Milley said. “The Ukrainians will fight. We need to make sure they have the means to fight.”
The historic meeting was attended not just by NATO members and NATO allies but also by 14 non-NATO nations joining in on the defense meeting. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Qatar, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Tunisia, Sweden, and Finland joined the meeting. Of course, the Ukrainian delegation was not absent in these defense talks as they were at the center of the conflict.
“We need weapons. Modern weapons. A large number of modern heavy weapons,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Twitter after the talks.
Austin also expressed during the gathering that these meetings would be done monthly to continually discuss support for Ukraine in the coming months of fighting.
“The contact group will be a vehicle for nations of goodwill to intensify our efforts, coordinate our assistance, and focus on winning today’s fight and the struggles to come,” Austin said. “The monthly meetings may be in-person, virtual, or mixed. And they’ll extend the transparency, the integration, and the dialogue that we saw today.”
Currently, Ukraine’s allies (30 nations) have donated a total of $5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. $3.7 billion of that sum directly came from the United States. As SOFREP Editor-in-chief Sean Spoonts has said, the numbers don’t lie. Europe needs to step up its financial and military contribution to the war effort in Ukraine as they only account for $1.1 Billion of support.
“The EU member states combined have $15.5 trillion in GDP, which is roughly 10 times the size of Russia’s GDP. It also has an arms and weaponry manufacturing industry that dwarves Russia’s as well.” Spoonts pointed out.
“The EU has six times the number of serving weapons systems as the US. The EU makes 17 different kinds of main battle tanks, 27 different howitzer systems, 20 different kinds of infantry fighting vehicles, as well as aircraft carriers, destroyers, and even nuclear-powered submarines. The US has just 30 major weapons systems,” he added.
That being said, Europe cannot say that it doesn’t have the means to supply Ukraine, just the will to do so. Much hope lies within these defense meetings, with the goal to have united and strong support for the Ukrainians who are fighting a larger foe with an expansionist ideology in mind.
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