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Poland among leaders in supporting Ukraine: US defence secretary

20.01.2023 12:15
Poland is among the countries at the forefront of efforts to support Ukraine against Russia's invasion, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told a press conference as international leaders gathered at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base to discuss military aid for Kyiv on Friday.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (3L) speaks during the third meeting of Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the US Air Base in Ramstein, Germany.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (3L) speaks during the third meeting of Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the US Air Base in Ramstein, Germany.Photo: PAP/EPA/RONALD WITTEK

Defence leaders from around 50 countries and NATO gathered for a crunch meeting on weapons to Ukraine as part of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group.

“Poland has been a leader in providing armoured vehicles, in training Ukrainian forces, and in providing shelter for Ukrainian refugees,” Austin said.

He added that in order to “meet Ukraine’s most urgent battle needs,” the United States would provide the country with hundreds of armoured vehicles and other military equipment as part of a huge new USD 2.5 billion security assistance package.

“Our new package provides even more air defence capabilities to help Ukraine defend its cities and its skies,” Austin said.

The new tranche of military aid was announced by the Pentagon on Thursday night, the Reuters news agency reported.

The package includes “hundreds of armored vehicles, critical support for Ukraine’s air defense, and other important capabilities,” the US Defence Department said in a statement.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky also addressed the gathering. He thanked allies for their support, adding that more urgent support was needed for his country to defend itself.

"We have to speed up. Time must become our weapon ... The Kremlin must lose," Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz resisted calls to provide Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, according to news reports.

He did not directly respond to a question on whether or not Germany will supply Ukraine with tanks, but said his country supported Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself.

Reuters reported on Thursday that "a government source in Germany has said it would move on the Leopard tanks issue if the United States agreed to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine."

Nine NATO allies pledge new military assistance to Ukraine

On Thursday, a group of defence and military leaders from NATO countries held a video conference, pledging a raft of new military aid for Ukraine. 

The assistance from countries including Poland, Britain, Estonia and Latvia will include tens of Stinger air defence systems, S-60 anti-aircraft guns, machine guns and training, according to a joint statement.

Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has said his country will renew its offer to donate a company of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as part of a wider coalition.  

Ukraine is pushing for more assistance to repel Moscow's invasion, amid concerns that winter will give the Russian army time to regroup and launch a major new offensive, Reuters reported.   

Friday is day 331 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 


Source: Reuters