The defense Secretary pledges to do whatever is necessary to give Kiev what it wants
The US will move “heaven and earth” to supply Ukraine with what it says it needs to fight Russia, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. The announcement came on Tuesday at a 40-country meeting aimed at getting Washington’s allies on board the mission to prop up Kiev’s defenses.
Summoned by the US at its German airbase Ramstein, the meeting’s official purpose was “to help Ukraine win the fight against Russia’s unjust invasion and to build up Ukraine’s defenses for tomorrow’s challenges,” in Austin’s words. “Ukraine clearly believes that it can win and so does everyone here,” he continued, speaking for the many US-allied nations present.
While Washington, as the top-dollar donor to Kiev, will “keep moving heaven and earth so that we can meet” the needs of the Ukrainian government, Austin made it clear other countries would be expected to pony up.
Germany, which had previously pleaded scarcity, insisting its own army lacked sufficient weapons to send the surplus to Ukraine, has had a change of heart, according to Defense Minister Christine Lamprecht, who revealed Berlin would send used Gepard anti-aircraft tanks and purchase new equipment from German arms manufacturers to be shipped directly to the Ukrainian military.
“Ukraine orders and Germany pays,” she pledged.
France will provide Caesar cannons, which have a range of up to 40km, while the UK has supplied Starstreak missiles and tanks. The US has stepped up its own heavy weapons deliveries, showering Kiev with howitzers and armored vehicles.
Austin nevertheless insisted the countries present do more to help. “Ukraine needs our help to win today and they will still need our help when the war is over,” he said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed his country needs $7 billion per month to compensate for “economic losses” allegedly caused by the Russian offensive. He has also asked for a whopping $50 billion from G7 countries, citing escalating financial demands on his government. The US has already sent over $3 billion in military aid this year alone.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.