During a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels among the alliance’s foreign ministers on Thursday, the US and UK led the way in forging a fresh agreement to give Ukraine “new and heavier” weapons, at a moment a limited number of Czech-provided Soviet-designed T-72M tanks have already been transferred to Kiev – reportedly with the quiet assistance of Washington.
“There was support for countries to supply new and heavier equipment to Ukraine, so that they can respond to these new threats from Russia,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said at a press briefing.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that the US is “looking across the board right now, not only at what we have provided … and whether there are additional systems that would make a difference.” The latest cutting edge weaponry the Pentagon has transferred to Ukraine has included Switchblade drones, which are low-cost Kamikaze drones capable of destroying armored vehicles and tanks in the more advanced version of the system.
However, Blinken hasn’t specified which “heavier” weapons the US would be willing to send. So far any efforts to transfer jets or tanks has been met with inter-alliance resistance given it would likely put NATO and Russia on a more direct collision course. This as on Friday Slovakia announced it has “donated” an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine.
Weapon shipments have also so far included Javelin ant-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. But the Ukrainian government has persistently lobbied for more, often with emotional language – such as Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s appeal to NATO this week: “The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved,” he said.
Ahead of the foreign ministers meeting, Kubela met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, stating on Twitter that he had urged the “three most important things” for Ukrainians are “weapons, weapons, weapons.”
So far Brussels appears to have responded positively. the UK’s Truss has signaled that NATO is looking to go beyond the older Soviet-designed systems currently being given to Ukraine’s military. This after all is what its forces are trained on and are efficient in. “We agreed to help Ukrainian forces move from their Soviet-era equipment to NATO standard equipment, on a bilateral basis,” she said.
Another “demilitarisation” success. Truss after Nato meeting: “There was support for countries to supply new and heavier equipment…we agreed to help Ukrainian forces move from their Soviet-era equipment to Nato standard equipment, on a bilateral basis.” https://t.co/4Mmju2iRtR
— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) April 7, 2022
FM Kuleba has responded by saying he’s “cautiously optimistic” NATO will meet the demands for more. “I was very specific about the requests and the timeline that they should be accommodated. I will be looking forward to the follow-up from allies,” he said.