The group’s defence ministers made the declaration during a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Hosted by US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, the get-together was attended by officials including Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak.
Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov also took part in the gathering.
New air defence systems for Ukraine
At a news conference afterwards, Austin told reporters that new air defence systems from allies and partners would be delivered to Ukraine as quickly as possible, the frontnews.eu website reported.
The US defence secretary said, as cited by Ukraine's Ukrinform news agency: "These systems will be delivered to Ukraine as quickly as we can physically deliver them there. This is a top priority and what we will focus on. We intend to provide the systems that we have and that are available, that countries like Germany have available. We will also try to provide additional equipment for the systems that the Ukrainian forces are already using now."
The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, said: “A lot of the countries that were here today have a wide variety of systems, and … the task will be to bring those together, get them deployed, get them trained. … So it's ... quite complicated from a technical standpoint. It is achievable, and that's what we're aiming at.”
In a “weapons wish list” provided to the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, Ukraine said it needed short-, medium- and long-range air-defence systems, anti-ballistic systems, guided missiles and drones, among other munitions, the IAR news agency reported.
'Poland is playing a key role'
Poland’s Błaszczak said: “Air defence is a priority, but it is also vital to provide general arms assistance to Ukraine and in this respect, Poland is playing a key role.”
He added: “Poland has been supporting Ukraine from the very start of the war. We are doing this because we want to border independent Ukraine, not Russia. The security of Poland and NATO’s eastern flank depends on the situation in Ukraine.”
France, UK to bolster Ukraine’s air defences
France’s President Emmanuel Macron declared in a television interview on Wednesday evening that Paris would supply air-defence systems to Ukraine over the coming weeks, as well as stepping up other weapons deliveries.
“France will deliver radar and air defence systems to Ukraine in the coming weeks to help the country protect itself from Russian drone and missile attacks,” Macron told broadcaster France 2, adding that his country would also provide a further six Caesar howitzers to Ukraine, the france24.com website reported.
Meanwhile, the UK government said in a statement in the early hours of Thursday that it would “donate cutting edge air defence missiles to Ukraine which can help protect against Russian missile strikes,” the Politico news service reported.
Zelensky thanks Ukraine Defence Contact Group
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, dubbed “the Ramstein format,” for moving to strengthen his country’s air defences.
In a video address to the nation on Wednesday night, Zelensky said: “Another meeting took place today in the format of the defence 'Ramstein.' Quite productive. First of all, they discussed providing our country with anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems.”
"I am grateful to the partners," he added.
The Ukrainian president was also cited as saying that "the more audacious and cruel Russian terror becomes, the more obvious it is to the world that helping Ukraine to protect the sky is one of the most important humanitarian tasks for Europe of our time."
Polish, Ukrainian defence ministers hold bilateral talks
On the sidelines of Wednesday’s get-together in Brussels, Poland’s defence minister held bilateral talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, the IAR news agency reported.
Błaszczak and Reznikov discussed “the current security situation in the region and actions designed to provide further support to Ukraine,” according to officials.
EU training effort for Ukrainian troops
Błaszczak confirmed reports that a European Union training mission for Ukrainian soldiers would be headquartered in Poland.
“An EU mission to train Ukrainians will be organised in Poland,” he said, adding that "an important operational-command post will be based in Poland soon."
Under the project, EU countries are expected to train up to 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers in defence against cyberattacks and weapons of mass destruction, as well as in air defence and medical services, the IAR news agency reported.
On Thursday, NATO defence ministers are expected to hold more talks in Brussels on how to support Ukraine.
Thursday is day 232 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: IAR, Reuters, frontnews.eu, ukrinform.net, CNN, defense.gov, france24.com, president.gov.ua