The 8th of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Meeting, attended by nearly 50 countries, was held at NATO’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelenski, was connected to the meeting attended by Hulusi Akar, Minister of National Defense from Turkey, via video conference method. Making the opening speech of the meeting, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd said, “We are coming together in a very turbulent time. But if you look at this chart you will see the determination and unity of the Contact Group. “About 50 countries have stepped in to help Ukraine defend itself and deter future threats,” he said. “When (Russian President) Vladimir Putin launched the invasion for no reason 11 months ago, he thought that Ukraine would just fall to the ground and the world would watch. But Putin did not take into account the courage of the Ukrainian people, the skill of the Ukrainian army, the on-screen (Zelensky) and those around this table. But we need to maintain our speed and determination. We need to go even deeper. Now is a decisive moment for the world and Ukraine. That’s why we shouldn’t make mistakes. We will support Ukraine’s self-defense until the end,” he said.
Saying that they know that Russia has a tendency to aggression and conquest, Austin said, “Russian forces increased their horrific attacks and killed many innocent Ukrainians. Just a few days ago, we saw Russia’s brutality once again in the city of Dnipro. A Russian missile hit the apartment and killed at least 46 civilians, including children. Kremlin forces continue to bomb Ukrainian cities and citizens. Russian forces targeted power plants, theatres, sports arenas, centers of Ukrainian history and culture. Russia’s attacks were planned to demoralize Ukraine. But they failed,” he said.
VALUE OF 2.5 BILLION
“Russia is running out of ammo. He suffered significant losses in the war. He looks to his few remaining partners to carry out his tragic and unnecessary attacks. However, Iran and North Korea will not accept that they are providing supplies to Russia,” he said. “I am particularly proud that the United States has greatly increased its security assistance to Ukraine. Last month, the United States announced that it would provide a Patriot air defense system and related munitions. We’ve included Bradley combat vehicles and other armored vehicles in this massive security aid package. Today, too, I am pleased to announce a new major security aid that helps meet Ukraine’s urgent needs at the front. This new military aid package is worth $2.5 billion and is one of the largest ever. “Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February, the United States has increased security aid to Ukraine to over $26.7 billion,” he said.
Noting that the new military aid package also includes an air defense system, Austin said, “This includes NASAMS ammunition and 8 Avenger air defense systems. The new aid package also helps to meet Ukraine’s urgent need for armor and combat vehicles. In this context, we provide 59 Bradley, 90 Stryker, 53 MRAP and 350 armored Humvee vehicles. We’re also sending thousands more cannonballs. “The United States is therefore determined to do its part and lead the way to help Ukraine defend itself,” he said.
Emphasizing that the US will also provide training to Ukrainian soldiers, Austin noted that this will be done in harmony with the European Union and other countries. Austin said, “We are proud to stand with our valued allies and partners to support the defense of Ukraine. Poland has been a leader in providing armored vehicles, training Ukrainian forces, and hosting Ukrainian refugees. Germany also announced that it will supply the Patriot air defense system and Marder infantry fighting vehicle for Ukraine. Last week, Canada announced that it would supply Ukraine with NASAMS air defense system. This is a huge investment in Ukraine’s air defense power. France also announced a significant donation of AMX-10 tanks. Many European countries have announced their own training initiatives as part of the EU’s Military Assistance Mission to Ukraine. “These announcements, especially regarding air defense assistance, are the direct result of this Contact Group.”
Austin said, “Today, we will continue our important work together. Our Ukrainian friends will discuss the situation on land and their most urgent needs, especially air defense and armored vehicles. Next, we’ll consider our complementary education initiatives. Also, we will hear the support of Ukraine for the legitimate defense of Ukraine from many countries here today.” Stating that Russia is trying to recover and recruiting new soldiers to the army, Austin said, “This is not a moment when we should slow down. It’s time to dig deeper. The Ukrainian people are watching us. The Kremlin is watching us. So we will not give up. “We will not give up on our determination to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian imperialist aggression,” he said.
CALL FOR ‘ACCELERATING’ FROM ZELENSKI
In his speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “I am grateful to you for this unity. This is the format of dialogue and collaboration. We see its results on the battlefield in Ukraine. Thank you. I believe that our partnership will get stronger with each new meeting. But do we have much time? No. Terror does not allow discussion. The terror that burns the cities turns arrogant as the defenders of freedom feel their weapons against it run out. Russia’s war does not allow delays. I can thank you a hundred times and it will certainly be fair given what we’ve done so far. I really appreciate you all for the weapons you provided. All of them help save our people from terror, but time continues to move like a Russian weapon. We have to speed up. Just like the air defense system, munitions, armored vehicles and tanks we negotiated with you, time should become our common weapon, and this is what will actually ensure victory. I am sure that you will not allow such a world order where hatred prevails,” he said.
“CREAM SHOULD LOSE”
Stating that Russia wants to destroy the law and universal human values, Zelenski said, “Russian troops, Ukraine he is fighting for exactly this with his actions on his land. To teach the world to hate. That’s why we have to speed up. We have to do this. We must act as quickly as a father or mother who saves her child. “The Kremlin must lose,” he said.