US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that about 20 countries offered new security aid packages to Ukraine to fight invading Russian forces at an allied meeting on Monday.
In their second meeting, nearly forty countries and organizations that make up the Ukraine Defense Contact Group met online to discuss assistance to Ukraine, and 20 countries pledged arms, ammunition and other supplies to support Kyiv.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov briefed the group on the current situation of the three-month-old war, in which the two sides are fighting along a long frontline over Russian-held territories in eastern and southern Ukraine.
“Today, together with Minister Reznikov and his team, we have gained a clearer and more common sense of the priority requirements of Ukraine and the situation on the battlefield,” Austin said.
“Many countries provide much-needed artillery ammunition, coastal defense systems, tanks and other armored vehicles,” he said.
He added that others are providing training to the Ukrainian army.
He said Denmark is committed to sending the Harpoon anti-ship missile system, and the Czech Republic is offering attack helicopters, tanks and missile systems.
Harbins are cruise missiles that can penetrate the sea’s surface to target ships up to 187 miles (300 kilometers) from shore, depending on their type.
Harpoons are usually mounted on ships or planes, but Denmark is the only country with land systems to protect coastlines.
The Danish battery will add a layer of protection to the Ukrainian port of Odessa on the Black Sea, which is believed to be threatened by Russian invasion from the sea.
It is also likely that they will reach the port of Sevastopol, where some of the Russian fleet is stationed in the Black Sea.
– Long-range missiles –
Austin did not provide details about what was included in a new $40 billion US aid package to Ukraine, amid speculation that it could include long-range, high-precision missiles that could be used to strike Russian territory.
Ukraine has ordered from the United States mobile batteries for long-range missiles, the M270 MLRS and the M142 Himars.
They can fire multiple missiles simultaneously with a range of up to 187 miles, eight or more times the distance of artillery in the field.
This could give Ukrainian forces the ability to reach targets far from Russian lines with great precision.
It may also allow them to strike targets inside Russia, although it is unclear whether these were their intentions.
“The momentum of donations and delivery has been impressive,” Austin said since the first meeting of the arms donor group at a US base in Germany four weeks ago.
He said Ukraine’s needs had not changed much since the previous meeting and that the war was still being driven by artillery backed by tanks, drones and other equipment.
“The fighting was already shaped by artillery at this point, and we’ve seen a serious exchange of artillery fire over the past several weeks,” Austin said.
“Everyone here understands the dangers of this war, and its scope extends far beyond Europe,” he added.
“Russian aggression is an affront to the rules-based international order.”
Austin said the Ukraine Defense Contact Group is scheduled to meet in person on June 15 during the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels.
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