US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at Tuesday’s Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) meeting that the US had run out of money allocated for military aid to Ukraine while urging other nations to step up as the US is currently unable to supply Kyiv with the missiles and ammunition needed to defend itself due to stalled funding in the US Congress.
“I urge this group to dig deep to provide Ukraine with more lifesaving ground-based air defense systems and interceptors,” said Austin in his opening remarks at the Ramstein meeting.
The UDCG, commonly known as meeting in the Ramstein format, is an alliance of more than 50 nations established by Austin in April 2022 that meets monthly to coordinate support for Ukraine.
During the meeting, the group also agreed on initiatives to bolster Ukraine’s long-range drone and armor capabilities that would be led by Germany and Latvia.
The lack of US funding came as a result of the continuing tug-of-war in Congress between Democrats and Republicans on Ukraine funding and border issues, which has stalled the $60 billion aid package the Biden administration proposed for Ukraine.
The US has been the largest military supporter of Ukraine to date, providing $43.9 billion worth of military aid to Kyiv, followed by Germany at $17.1 billion, according to data from the Kiel Institute.
The lack of fresh funding is likely to adversely affect Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said on Jan. 24 that there was a need for more air defense weapons to defend the cities against Russian missile strikes, citing Russia’s latest missile strike on the eastern city of Kharkiv as an example.
Celeste Wallander, US assistant defense secretary for international affairs, said she received reports from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense that front-line units “do not have the stocks and the stores of ammunition that they require.”
“That is one of the reasons we have been focusing on the need to answer Congress’ questions, so that they are able to move forward on a decision to pass,” Wallander added.
The same month, amidst the uncertain prospect of the $60 billion aid package, the US and Ukraine signed a historic joint weapons production agreement aimed at bolstering Kyiv’s defensive capabilities through increased domestic production of key weapons and equipment.
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