NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov and General Yevhen Moisiuk in Brussels on February 14, 2023.
Brussels – Ministers of defense of NATO countries and other allies of Ukraine are discussing today in Brussels the question of how to speed up the support of the Ukrainian army facing the Russian offensive and at the same time not to endanger its own dwindling ammunition stocks. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said shortly before the meeting that the alliance must provide Ukraine with the equipment necessary to win the war. For this, according to him, it will be necessary to increase the production of ammunition. Germany, for example, is already counting on this, according to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. According to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Russia is counting on allies' support to wane over time, but they are wrong.
The bloc's defense ministers are meeting nearly a year after the start of Russia's invasion and as Ukraine faces renewed pressure from Russian forces in the country's east. Their meeting precedes a morning meeting of the US-led contact group for Ukraine.
“The Kremlin is still betting that we won't last. But a year on from the start of the war, we are still just as united. And this shared determination will help Ukraine maintain the momentum it has had in critical next few weeks,” Austin said at the start of the group's meeting.
He recalled the arms deliveries jointly promised by a number of alliance countries, among which are American Patriot anti-aircraft systems, German Leopard 2 tanks and older T 72 tanks, which the Czech army promised to deliver 90 after renovation ensured by the USA and the Netherlands. The Allies have promised Ukraine almost 50 billion dollars (1.1 trillion crowns) in arms since the beginning of the war, but they must further strengthen their efforts, Austin added.
According to Stoltenberg, the alliance must speed up the supply of ammunition, fuel and spare parts, which the Ukrainian army is not receiving, and quickly deliver previously promised weapons.
“We do not see that President (Vladimir) Putin is preparing for peace. You can see the exact opposite, he is preparing the continuation of the war, new offensives and new attacks,” Stoltenberg told reporters today. He added that it is also a battle of logistics, during which Ukraine's allies must find a way to deliver the promised weapons as quickly as possible. According to him, it is also necessary to increase the production of ammunition so that Ukraine can receive it and the stocks of the allied countries do not become significantly thinner.
According to Kyiv, the Ukrainian army fires 5,000 pieces of artillery ammunition per day, for Russia it is up to four times more. According to experts, Ukraine's daily consumption corresponds to the amount that the army of a smaller European country buys for an entire year in peacetime.
The German government signed a contract with the Rheinmetall company to resume the production of ammunition for Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft systems, which it supplies to Ukraine. “I am very pleased that we are able to secure the supply of this very important component of air defence,” Pistorius said before the meeting.