In Ukraine, they discuss the results of the meeting of the Defense Contact Group of Ukraine, also known as the “Ramstein format”.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov tweeted on March 15 that the “tenth Ramstein” was encouraging.
“Strengthening air defense, ammunition, training and formation of an ‘armored fist'”, he stressed.
The head of the Ukrainian Department of Defense expressed his gratitude to the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, for “outstanding leadership and friends of the anti-Kremlin coalition for your willingness to support Ukraine until we win.”
In his video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyyyy said that at the tenth meeting in the Ramstein format, the supply of ammunition, artillery, tanks to Kiev, as well as issues of protecting the Ukrainian sky, were discussed.
“There are solutions. Thank you to the United States, which coordinates Rammstein, and to all our partners for their unfailing availability. This is particularly important now, when it is felt that Russian aggression is approaching the point when it can overwork itself,” Zelenskyyy said.
The Ukrainian leader stressed that “there is no such terrorist who could increase his potential against the free world”.
“Russia is no exception. We must constantly increase the pressure for terror. The pressure is in our defence, in sanctions against Russia, in the destruction of ways around sanctions by the Russian state and its companies, in political and legal pressure,” he stressed.
Zelenskyyy expressed his gratitude to Denmark, which announced a defense package for Ukraine, and “for the decision on a special fund to help our state in the amount of seven billion Danish crowns” (or $1 billion ).
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said during a telethon on the Rada TV channel that today Ukraine’s main priority in terms of military assistance is to increase the supply of artillery shells.
“Artillery shells are clearly a clear priority due to a number of political factors,” Kuleba explained.
According to him, at present it is necessary for the countries that have the shells not only to transfer them to Ukraine, but also to develop the production of additional ammunition.
Lloyd Austin: Ukraine can’t waste time
According to the NATO website, discussions during the virtual meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 focused on the importance of maintaining and increasing support for Ukraine as the country continues to resist the brutal war of aggression unleashed by Russia.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg briefed the group on efforts by NATO and its allies to provide Ukraine with key capabilities as soon as possible, including more air defense systems, more armor and of ammunition.
Following the virtual meeting, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin called on Kiev’s allies to speed up the supply of weapons to prevent Russia from prolonging the war.
“Ukraine cannot waste time. Our colleagues in the Contact Group also understand that we must promptly and fully fulfill our obligations, including the delivery of our armored vehicles to the battlefield and the proper training of Ukrainian soldiers. We also need to get the parts and maintenance needed to use the new systems as soon as possible,” Austin told a news conference.
The head of the Department of Defense noted that the members of the group have confirmed their determination to continue supporting Ukraine: Sweden intends to supply Ukraine with ten Leopard tanks and key air defense components, Norway, together with the United States, will transfer two NASAMS anti-aircraft systems to Kiev.
The Rzeczpospolita newspaper website quotes Polish President Andrzej Duda on March 16 as saying that four MiG-29 fighters will be handed over to Ukraine in the coming days.
The war in Ukraine at the center of the international agenda
Oleksiy Kurpas, an expert at the political consulting agency Fabrika Media, believes that the statements by the heads of the US and Ukrainian defense departments actually mean that Ukraine is ready for a decisive battle.
“And this decisive battle is not only for Ukraine, but also for both parties, on the one hand, a coalition of the United States and the European Union in support of Ukraine. On the other hand, Russia, maybe China and India,” Alexei Kurpas told the media Russian service correspondent.
The expert stresses that the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine and Western support for the struggle of the Ukrainian people must be seen through the prism of the global agenda.
“Obviously, the announced visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow is one of the most important stories about what will happen next in Ukraine. If China firmly supports Russia, strengthens its partnership, enters into a partnership in military level, given that Iran, Russia and China are currently conducting exercises, then it will be possible to say that they, if India is also included in it, are really preparing a fairly powerful alliance, and not only against Ukraine, but against the United States,” explains the political scientist.
More shells and artillery
Political scientist Aleksey Yakubin says the main objective and strategy of the West remains the same: to supply Ukraine with as much shells and artillery as possible.
“It is necessary so that we can leave the territories before future negotiations. It is important that we enter these negotiations from a position of strength. From what we see, Russia understands the word of force, and it must see that it will not have the opportunity, the movement to change something in the south, in the Donbass, and then it will move to some truce format,” Yakubin believes.
At the same time, in his opinion, one cannot exclude the preparation of Ukraine for a counter-offensive.
“In the Donbass, I do not exclude that a kind of counter-offensive is preparing. When there was a liberation of the Kharkiv or Kherson region, there was first a kind of information curtain. There were rumors that the offensive would be there or elsewhere. In this case, the situation may be similar. All the information on the upcoming counter-offensive is in place; the key question is when? There is no precise public information on these issues,” said the political scientist.
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