On Tuesday the coalition of more than 50 allies and partners at the 18th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) under US chairmanship reaffirmed their continuing military assistance support for Ukraine.

The Ramstein meeting as the previous one was conducted virtually and was chaired by the US Secretary for Defense, Lloyd Austin, who insisted on his personal participation despite his recent hospitalization and the need to work remotely.

In his opening speech Austin urged the international community not to drop its guard as Ukraine`s fight against Russian aggression enters its third year.  

“Let's be clear: Our support for Ukraine's struggle makes all of our countries more secure… Putin continues to sacrifice staggering numbers of Russian troops in his rash and reckless war of choice,” Austin said.

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“Putin hopes that missiles and drones will demoralize the Ukrainian people and break the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian military… So, I urge this group to dig deep to provide Ukraine with more lifesaving ground-based air defense systems and interceptors.”

According to him, “the United States continues to work hard to monitor and account for U.S. security assistance delivered to Ukraine”.

“We have seen no credible evidence of the misuse or illicit diversion of American equipment provided to Ukraine” Austin added.

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The US Secretary of Defense named Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom among those who have announced new packages of long-term security assistance to Ukraine totaling billions of dollars since the previous Ramstein meeting in November.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, (UMoD) Kyiv will receive “urgently needed” weapons from its partners “in order to effectively hit the enemy both on the front line and at the rear, to destroy his logistics hubs.”

“We have heard enough important statements from partners, enough important commitments to say that the strong support of Ukraine will continue,” the head of UMoD’s press and information department, Illarion Pavliuk, said after the meeting.

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Pavliuk underlined the fact that partners understood the need for long-range weapons: “There is a full understanding of the partners that we need these weapons and the commitment to work on providing Ukraine with more weapons for such strikes.”

The Head of the UMoD International Defense Cooperation Department, Colonel Gennadiy Kovalenko, added that the latest meeting was an opportunity for Ukraine to convey important messages to its allies, including updates on the situation at the front.

The leadership of the Urkaine’s Defense Intelligence department (HUR) also shared its assessments of Russia's goals and plans as well as Kyiv`s countermeasures with its partners.

“We not only listened to our allies, we also shared our messages - how we will confront [Russia’s] attacks and achieve our victory,” Kovalenko said.

According to him, the participants of the meeting also discussed the strengthening of Ukraine's capabilities within the aviation, anti-aircraft, artillery and maritime security coalitions.

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For instance, the members of the aviation coalition, in addition to the commitment to provide F-16 fighters to Ukraine, also discussed the provision of additional helicopters.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Rustem Umerov, who headed the Ukrainian delegation, argued in his closing speech, that for now Kyiv needs to solve the problems of the lack of artillery ammunition and to maintain its air defense capability.

“We need spare parts and maintenance to keep the equipment working. Our troops need constant training. And it is absolutely essential that we maintain our air defense network. This is a life-saving, vital priority. Thank you for the valuable aid packages. With your support, Ukraine's fighting spirit will not break,” Umerov said.

Last week the first meeting of the “Artillery Coalition” was held in Paris, under the leadership of France and the US, within the Ramstein format, which already includes 23 participating countries.

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