West must stay focused on Ukraine during ‘pivotal’ moment, says Pentagon chief -Breaking
Sabine Siebold, Idrees Al and Sabine Siebold
BRUSSELS (Reuters). -Russia’s invasion of Ukraine occurred at a “pivotal moment” and the United States, its allies and NATO could not forget about the long-running conflict. Lloyd Austin from the U.S. Defense Department stated Wednesday that the United States was unable to lose sight of the ongoing three-month-old conflict as Western countries promised more weapons to Kyiv.
Austin addressed a group of defense ministers at an informal meeting that was held on the margins of a NATO ministerial event. The meeting, which includes nearly 50 nations, is the third to be held to discuss coordination and assistance to Ukraine. In April, the last in-person meeting took place at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
MykhailoPodolyak (presidency adviser) said Monday that Ukraine needed 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks, and 1000 drones. NATO-standard weapons are promised by Western nations, as well as advanced U.S. rockets.
Deploying them takes time. Ukraine will need constant Western support for transitioning to new supplies and system as their Soviet-era weapons deteriorate.
“We cannot afford to slow down and we must not lose our momentum. Austin spoke at Brussels’s opening of the meeting. “Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield… Russia is using its long-range fires to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions.”
The White House has announced that Ukraine will receive approximately $1 billion of new weapons on Wednesday. These include coastal defense systems, ammunition for artillery, and advanced rocket system.
Christine Lambrecht from Defence Ministry stated that Germany will provide three MARS II Multiple Rocket Launchers to Ukraine. Also, the Ukrainian military training would start in the following weeks.
NATO Secretary General Jens Steltenberg stated that the Allies will continue to provide Ukraine with long-range and heavy weapons. He also said that they expect them to reach an agreement on a new package for assistance to Kyiv during a NATO summit in the latter part of this month.
Sometimes these efforts can take time. Stoltenberg stated that it was important for a meeting such as the one today to discuss the Ukrainian representatives’ challenges and issues.
Now, as conflict in Ukraine has become a grueling war of attrition and the fighting for Sievierodonetsk — a town of just over 100,000 before the war began – the largest battle is taking place in Ukraine.
General Mark Milley, Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that Russia had taken control of about three quarters of Sievierodonetsk.
Milley stated that Russia could not win the eastern Donbas area. But it was obvious the numbers were in favor of Russia regarding artillery even though Moscow had lost between 20% and 30% of its armoured army.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2018, the United States has provided security support to Ukraine in excess of $5.6 billion. This includes artillery systems like howitzers, as well as longer-range weapons such High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
A senior U.S. defense official spoke on condition of anonymity, “Russia hasn’t given up on fighting, in spite its pretty anaemic progres… What we have are this grinding, slow and incremental Russian operation.”
According to the official, “So now the question is: What do Ukrainians need in order to continue their success in slowing and delaying the Russian objective? This will be a key focus for defence ministers.”
Russia started a “special” operation in Ukraine in February. It said it needed to expel dangerous nationalists, and lower Ukraine’s military abilities – goals the West dismissed as baseless.
Biden’s administration stated that it had received assurances by Kyiv not to use longer-range weaponry against Russian territory. They fear an increase in conflict.
According to Kyiv, it lost 100-200 soldiers every day and had hundreds of more injured. The battle for Donbas’ industrial heartland, which has been occupied partly by Moscow’s proxy forces since 2014, was described as among the most horrific in European history.
Milley claimed that those figures were in the same ballpark as the United States estimate of Ukrainian casualties. But, losses may be manageable since Russia’s invasion poses an existential danger.