According to Ukraine’s Defense Minister, at Wednesday’s “fruitful” meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein Format Group, allies discussed air defenses, artillery systems, and F-16 fighters as well as launched a Drone Coalition.

The 19th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG), held online on Feb. 14, saw agreement on the new Drone Coalition, which already includes eight countries: Sweden, Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, the Netherlands, and Latvia.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Rustem Umerov, said that this coalition under the leadership of Latvia will provide Ukraine with more drones.

At the meeting, Kyiv was represented by Minister Umerov along with Oleksandr Syrsky, the new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), and Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.

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“We are strengthening our air defense, both with systems and missiles for them,” said Umerov.

“The Coalition of Integrated Air and Missile Defense has officially started its work. 15 countries have already joined. I am grateful to Germany, France, and the USA for their leadership,” Umerov said following the results of the regular UDCG meeting.

According to him, Ukraine’s allies are currently discussing the joint production of artillery systems and shells. “We are working on it. There are already results,” Umerov said.

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Regarding the provision of F-16 fighters to Ukraine, Umerov said that Kyiv “is following the schedule within the framework of all agreements with partners.”

Canada’s Minister of National Defence Bill Blair at the Ramstein meeting announced an additional $60 million in military aid for Ukraine.

According to Blair, the new contribution “will support the setup of a sustainable F-16 fighter aircraft capability in Ukraine. Specifically, the funds will help source vitally needed F-16 supplies and equipment such as spare parts, weapons stations, avionics, and ammunition.”

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Canada is already providing instructors, [non-F-16] aircraft, and support personnel to train Ukrainian Air Force pilots in cooperation with Denmark and France.

Also, following the 19th Ramstein Format Meeting results, 10 countries signed a six-year agreement for IT coalition cooperation.

Unwavering support of 50 countries

Wednesday’s meeting of the UDCG was held just 10 days before Ukraine will enter the third year of the full-scale war. During the US-led event, representatives of the defense ministries of almost 50 countries affirmed their “unwavering resolve in support of Ukraine.” 

“When Putin launched his unjust and unprovoked war of choice, he was betting that Ukraine would fold. But he couldn't have been more wrong,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said as he kicked off a virtual meeting of the UDCG from Washington just a day after his release from the hospital.

According to Austin, “the countries of this contact group, almost two years later, are still united in common purpose.”

“The Kremlin keeps on betting that we will all lose interest in Ukraine, and that our support will flicker and fade, but I am more determined than ever,” said Austin.

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“This contact group remains resolute, undaunted and firm.”

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