The Pentagon said that the West will not slow down the pace of providing military assistance to Kiev

Image source: AP Photo/ Michael Probst

According to the head of the department, Lloyd Austin, the main topics of the meeting in Germany were the supply of air defense and armored vehicles to KievBERLIN, January 20.

/tass/. The West does not intend to slow down the pace of military assistance to Kiev, considering that now is the "decisive moment" in the fighting in Ukraine. This was stated by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Friday at a press conference following the results of the next meeting of the contact group on support for Ukraine created by Washington and its allies, which was held at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

"As [US President Joe] Biden said, this is a crucial decade for the world and this is a crucial moment for Ukraine's desire to defend itself. This contact group will not slow down," he said.

According to Austin, "given the progress made today," he is confident that "Ukraine's partners around the world are determined" to support Kiev. "The United States remains committed to taking the lead in this coordinated effort," the Pentagon chief added.

In turn, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, General Mark Milley, speaking at the same press conference, said that until Russia completes a special military operation in Ukraine, "the participants of the contact group will continue to support" Kiev in order to "preserve the rules-based international order." According to Milli, the leadership of the Russian Federation "eventually realizes the full extent of its strategic miscalculation."

According to the US Defense Department, in general, since the beginning of the special military operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, the United States has allocated over $26.7 billion for military assistance to Kiev.

The main topic of the meeting in Germany

The head of the US Defense Department said that the supply of air defense and armored vehicles to Kiev, as well as their synchronization, were the main issues on the agenda of the contact group meeting. "At today's meeting, attention was focused on Ukraine's needs for missile defense and armored vehicles. We have also been actively working on how to synchronize these shipments and turn them into fully operational funds," Austin said.

"We have also been actively working on how we will collectively and individually undertake efforts to train [the Ukrainian military]," he added.

Transfer of Patriot systems

Lloyd Austin also said that the Netherlands will transfer Patriot missiles and American missile defense systems to Ukraine, as well as train personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) to use them.

"A number of countries have made an important contribution that will help protect the skies of Ukraine, its cities and citizens. France, Germany and the United Kingdom have already transferred air defense systems to Ukraine, including the Patriot installation from Germany <...>, and the Netherlands will also transfer the Patriot system, missiles to it and conduct training," Austin said. The US Secretary of Defense added that Canada will purchase the NASAMS anti-aircraft missile system and missiles for Kiev.

In addition, Austin said that some NATO countries have pledged to transfer other equipment to Ukraine, including tanks. "We are making every effort to meet the needs of Ukraine in tanks and other armored vehicles," he said. The Pentagon chief noted that at this stage, the UK has become the first country to transfer Challenger 2 tanks to Kiev.

Sweden, Austin continued, will send armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery units (ACS) Archer to Ukraine. "Denmark will transfer 19 howitzers, Latvia will transfer even more portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS) Stinger, helicopters and other equipment, Estonia will send Ukraine much-needed 155-millimeter howitzers and ammunition for them," the head of the Pentagon listed.

Earlier it was reported that the Estonian aid will include "dozens of howitzers" FH-70 and D-30 and thousands of shells, as well as auxiliary equipment. In addition, Tallinn will hand over to Kiev several hundred Swedish Carl Gustaf M2 hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers and charges for them. Latvia is sending Ukraine two Mi-17 helicopters and dozens of Stinger MANPADS, several dozen UAVs, spare parts for M109 howitzers, as well as dozens of machine guns and ammunition. Denmark announced the transfer of 19 Caesar self-propelled guns to Ukraine, and the UK will send 14 Challenger 2 tanks and 30 AS90 self-propelled howitzers.

"Window of Opportunity"

The head of the Pentagon stressed that the West provides Ukraine with such types of weapons that should help it on the battlefield at the moment. 

"What we are really focused on right now is to provide Ukraine with the means it needs to succeed right now. We have a window of opportunity here <...> from now until spring <...>. And this is not a long period of time. And we need to raise the right funds," Austin said.

According to his version, these weapons, as well as other equipment supplied by Western countries, "if used correctly" will allow the Ukrainian side to "be successful." "We intend to do everything necessary so that they have the opportunity to use this appropriately," Austin added. As he explained, we are talking, in particular, about training the Ukrainian military to handle this equipment.

Probability of delivery of Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks

According to him, the United States has no announcements about the supply of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, Germany also did not decide to transfer Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev.

"I don't have any ads for them (Abrams tanks - approx. TASS). And you heard the German Defense Minister say that they have not yet made a decision on Leopard," he said, answering the relevant question.

Austin also commented on reports that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz allegedly informed him in a telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden that Germany would agree to allow the supply of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kiev only on condition that the US, for its part, would provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine. "I think you have heard that the Minister of Defense Germany said earlier today that there is no connection between the provision of M1 [Abrams] tanks and Leopards to [Kiev]. I think he made that clear," the Pentagon chief said. 

"So this idea of "unlocking" [the alleged doors on the way to the supply of tanks to Kiev by the West], in my understanding, is not a question. And, more importantly, in his (Pistorius - approx. TASS) "too," Austin stressed.

Earlier on Friday, Pistorius said that there is no cohesive coalition interested in mandatory deliveries of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kiev. Nevertheless, he did not rule out that a decision on the supply of Leopard to Kiev could be made in the coming days.

On Wednesday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, citing sources, reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden, informed that Germany would agree to allow the supply of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kiev only on condition that the US, for its part, would provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine. On Friday, a representative of the German Cabinet of Ministers denied this information, noting that the government does not have data on any official requests for the re-export of German tanks to the territory of the former Soviet Republic.

On January 20, a regular meeting of defense ministers of Western states was held at the American Ramstein airbase in Germany, where further assistance to Kiev was discussed, including the issue of transferring Leopard tanks to Ukraine. 

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