Western allies vow to bring air defenses to Ukraine ‘as soon as possible’

Western allies vow to bring air defenses to Ukraine ‘as soon as possible’


International supporters of Ukraine on Wednesday vowed to deliver new air defenses “as soon as possible” as Kyiv urged them to step up protection against Russia’s missile attack.

A US-led group of around 50 countries held talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels focusing on air defenses after Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed a barrage over Ukraine following an explosion on a bridge to the annexed Crimea peninsula.

When asked what he hoped the meeting would bring, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said just three words: “air defense systems.”

Western allies have been scrambling to figure out how to ship more advanced systems to Ukraine, as diplomats admit they have few left.

“The systems will be deployed as soon as we can physically get them there,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said after the meeting, without giving details of new commitments.

“We will provide systems that we have at our disposal… We will also try to provide additional ammunition to the existing systems that the Ukrainian Armed Forces use.”

A first Iris-T medium-range system has arrived in Ukraine after Germany decided to ship it before it was even handed over to its own troops.

The United States has also said it will expedite delivery of its NASAMS missile and anti-drone systems to Kyiv, and a first batch of two is expected in the coming weeks.

Delivery of another six units could take much longer as they need to be manufactured, and US sources said Washington was considering the possibility of trying to bring Cold War-era Hawk systems to Ukraine in the meantime.

“There are other systems around the world that are available,” U.S. Supreme General Mark Milley said.

“The task will be to bring them together and use them.”

– “key moment” –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday called on the G7 leaders to help set up an “air shield” over his country, more than seven months after the war against Moscow began.

Austin said the determination of Ukraine’s allies to support Kyiv was “reinforced by the deliberate cruelty of Russia’s new barrage against Ukraine’s cities.”

“These attacks on non-military targets have once again exposed the malice of Putin’s war of choice,” he said.

NATO defense ministers, who are due to meet on Thursday, are urging to stock up their overall stockpiles of weapons as the war in Ukraine depleted their shelves.

NATO members have shipped billions of dollars worth of arms to fight Russia’s more than seven-month invasion of Ukraine and have vowed to keep supplies going as Kyiv pushes to retake occupied territories.

“Allies have supported Ukraine by reducing NATO supplies, ammunition or weapons. That was correct, but of course we have to look at how we can replenish those stocks,” Stoltenberg said.

“I expect ministers will agree to review our guidance on equities and also engage more with the industry.”

The NATO chief said the meeting in Brussels comes at a “crucial moment” as Putin has been tracking battlefield losses through the annexation of confiscated territories and the issue of veiled nuclear threats.

Western powers say they have seen no change in Moscow’s nuclear stance that would indicate it is preparing for a strike. They have warned Moscow against deploying a small, tactical nuclear bomb in Ukraine.

“There would be a sharp response – almost certainly a physical response from many allies and possibly from NATO itself,” a senior NATO official said.

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