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“Free world won’t let Ukraine fail”: Ramstein group pledges more ammo, armor, drones

At the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Ramstein-Miesenbach Air Base in Germany, the country’s allies announced military aid packages and promised more missiles for Ukrainian air defense systems. New members joined drone and ammunition coalitions.
The image shows Ukrainian Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, on 19 March, 2024. Source: Rustem Umerov/Facebook
“Free world won’t let Ukraine fail”: Ramstein group pledges more ammo, armor, drones

On 19 March, defense ministers and military leaders from 50 countries gathered at the 20th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group alliance to coordinate their efforts in helping Ukraine’s security amid Russia’s war. Defense Minister Rustem Umerov led the Ukrainian delegation.

The discussions were held at the Ramstein-Miesenbach Air Base in Germany and focused on urgent measures to strengthen Ukraine’s defense, addressing the acute shortage of ammunition in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and exploring ways to enhance Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, including air defense systems and missiles.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the US would continue supporting Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s aggression, even as Congress continues to halt funding for Kyiv.

“The US will not let Ukraine fail. This coalition will not let Ukraine fail, and the free world will not let Ukraine fail,” Austin claimed.

In his opening remarks, Austin highlighted the heavy toll the war has taken on Russia, citing estimates that at least 315,000 Russian military personnel have been killed or wounded, with the all-out war costing Russia up to $211 billion.

At the end of the meeting, Umerov stated that “the coalition of allies had demonstrated unity and active support for Ukraine.”

Main discussions focused on ammunition for Ukraine

The Ukrainian Defense Minister stated that the Ramstein meeting was primarily focused on ensuring the provision of ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, particularly 155 mm, 152 mm, and 105 mm artillery shells.

“At the meeting, our partners announced aid packages, which include artillery shells,” said Umerov in a statement.

At the base, Germany announced that it would send a further €500 million in military aid to Ukraine, including thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.

As per Politico, the fresh donations will include 10,000 artillery shells from the Bundeswehr’s stocks and armored and transport vehicles.

In addition, Germany, Canada, and Finland will join Prague’s joint procurement initiative aimed at buying 800,000 artillery shells outside the EU for Ukraine. Pistorius added that Berlin would help pay for 180,000 rounds.

Defense Minister of Kosovo Ejup Maqedonci also announced an aid package for Ukraine at Ramstein Air Base, which include mortar rounds. The fresh assistance is the second donation from the country with partial diplomatic recognition.

“Kosovo will continue to support Ukraine in its heroic war against Russian aggression. Today, at the UDCG meeting, I announced our second package of military aid for Ukraine, consisting of mortar rounds. The first package with trucks, tactical and armored vehicles will be delivered next week,” Maqedonci wrote on X.

Ahead of the meeting, reports on ammunition from Estonia appeared in the media.

According to Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, his country has “various options regarding sending a larger amount of ammunition to Ukraine.”

The Estonian Defense Minister noted that the country will likely attempt to secure additional funds to purchase shells for Ukraine outside of Europe, as per Facty.

Strengthening Ukrainian air defenses

Another crucial aspect highlighted by Umerov was the bolstering of Ukraine’s air defense systems.

“There will be more missiles for our air defense systems,” the minister assured after the Ramstein meeting, refraining from providing specific details, Deutsche Welle reports.

As his German counterpart Boris Pistorius pointed out, “The skies over Ukraine belong to Ukrainians. Therefore, our shared objective is to secure Ukraine’s air superiority.”

Expanding the drone coalition

The allies of Ukraine also discussed the progress achieved by the drone coalition, previously led by Latvia and the UK.

“Our war for the restoration of territorial integrity is the first full-scale drone war. We have several new countries that have joined the drone coalition and made contributions. The initial results of this coalition will be the first drone deliveries to Ukraine in March.

We are also discussing the possibility of investing in Ukrainian production of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that have already proven their effectiveness on the battlefield,” Umerov disclosed.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine informed that Canada and Luxembourg had already joined the coalition. At the same time, Luxembourg, which procures drones for Ukraine “in cooperation with Belgium and the Netherlands,” also became part of the artillery coalition led by France and Germany.

Aviation coalition

Progress has also been made in the discussions regarding fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets, said the Ukrainian defense minister.

“We are actively working with all our partners, the US, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania, and others, to expedite the arrival of the aircraft in Ukraine,” summarized Umerov.

Armored vehicles for Ukraine

Belga News Agency reported that Belgium announced its plans to allocate a new €412 million military aid package for Ukraine, which includes 300 Lynx LMV armored vehicles produced by IVECO and three minesweepers of the Alkmaar class.

The country has also launched the BELEUX military aid initiative to strengthen Ukraine’s military potential with the Netherlands.

Within the initiative, Belgium will provide training for Ukrainian sailors on minesweeper ships, and the Netherlands will offer on-the-job training for the crews of such ships.

In addition, Polish and German delegations at the Ramstein Air Base allegedly held a meeting on a new coalition to provide Ukraine with armored vehicles and tanks. On 18 March, during a press conference with Polish Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, his counterpart Boris Pistorius announced that the coalition for armored equipment, “one of the most significant of those which have been established,” would be activated on 26 March and discussed at the Ramstein meeting, UNIAN reported.

“We, along with other partners like the UK, Sweden, and Italy, are leading this project,” Kosiniak-Kamysz added, highlighting their commitment to the initiative.

“This task will be addressed tomorrow in the Contact Group on Defense of Ukraine,” stated Boris Pistorius, as reported by UNIAN.

Supporting Ukraine is vital for countering Kremlin influence

Since 2022, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group members have mobilized $88 billion in security assistance commitments for Ukraine to assist the country in countering Russian occupiers, thwarting the expanding influence of the Kremlin regime, and resisting other dictatorships in the world.

Currently, the alliance is focusing on two areas in helping the country in its struggle against Russia: meeting the immediate needs of the Ukrainian forces on the battlefield and providing long-term assistance, said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin after the meeting in Germany.

The secretary also stressed that support for Ukraine is “crucial” for the US itself. According to the official, when the US contributes to Ukraine’s security, it invests in its own security, Interfax informed.

“Our objective is to help Ukraine build resilient forces on a long-term basis, he emphasized.

The Coalitions of Capabilities will enable Ukraine’s allies to coordinate support over many years, fostering a consistent, responsive, and steadfast approach to Ukraine’s enduring security.

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