NATO pledge for heavy weapons to Ukraine

Brussels 07.04.2022 The NATO member states have agreed to supply new types of advanced weaponry to Ukraine, alliance representatives have said, as Kyiv prepares for a next offensive by Russia in the Donbass region.

The pledge has been announced after a plea from Ukraine Foreign minister to move faster with weapons supplies. Six weeks since Russia invasion of Ukraine, some of the troops have largely withdrawn from territory north of Kyiv after failing to seize the capital, but are regrouping and rearming ahead of an attempt to advance in the Eastern region near Donbass.

These events influenced demands from Kyiv for western countries to supply more heavy weapons, armour and more advanced systems. Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he would use the Alliance meeting in Brussels to ask for aircraft, missiles, armoured vehicles and heavy air defence systems, additionally to the other types of equipment.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said to press that member states had agreed to send more weapons.

“There was support for countries to supply new and heavier equipment to Ukraine, so that they can respond to these new threats from Russia,” the top diplomat explained. “And we agreed to help Ukrainian forces move from their Soviet-era equipment to NATO standard equipment, on a bilateral basis.”

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said Washington was looking at sending “new systems” to Ukraine.

“We are not going to let anything stand in the way of getting Ukrainians what they need,” he said. “We are looking across the board right now, not only at what we have provided . . . [but] whether there are additional systems that would make a difference.”

Previously the allies have supplied Ukraine with anti-tank missiles, drones and other defensive weaponry before and during the war. However, they have declined to supply other classes of weapons or impose a no-fly zone, as Kyiv has demanded, over the risk of engaging Russia in a wider war.

Ukrainian defence forces with NLAW anti-tank weapons in Kyiv last month: Nato countries have promised to send more advanced systems as a fresh assault by Russia looms
Kuleba said afterwards he was “cautiously optimistic” that alliance states would meet his demand but warned that delays would result in more deaths.

“Either you help us now, and I am speaking about days . . . or your help will come too late,” Kuleba said. The Ukranian diplomat added also added that without these weapons many people might die.

He added: “I was very specific about the requests and the timeline that they should be accommodated. I will be looking forward to the follow-up from allies.”

Ukraine has warned Russia is preparing a fresh offensive in the Donbas, aimed at seizing territory in the two administrative regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which separatists have partially occupied since a Moscow-backed uprising in 2014.

Ukraine’s military authorities on Wednesday called on residents living in the regions to leave “while they still had the chance”.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, said allies had agreed to “further strengthen” support for Ukraine immediately and in the “medium and long term”.

The promise of further military aid came amid regrets of Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, admitting Russia had suffered “significant losses of troops” during the invasion of Ukraine, which he described as “a huge tragedy” for his compatriots.

Peskov said Russia had withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv in central Ukraine last week as a “goodwill act to lift tension from those regions and show Russia is really ready to create comfortable conditions to continue negotiations”, however fighting would continue in the Donbas, he added.

“It was a clear message from the meeting today that allies should do more and are ready to do more to supply more equipment. They realise and recognise the urgency,” he said.

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