Air defence is the first item, but aircraft were not forgotten: results and main statements of the Ramstein meeting
Following the 11th meeting in the Ramstein format, Ukraine will receive missiles for air defence systems and other heavy weapons. The participants of the meeting on April 21 supported the decision to make the relevant deliveries.
In addition, Kyiv will receive mine rollers, vehicles, and fuel tankers from Germany and the Netherlands. This was announced by US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin during a press conference after Ramstein (to watch the video, scroll down to the end).
Priority No. 1 - support for air defence
The Pentagon chief stressed that Russia continues to shell civilian targets, such as schools, hospitals and residential buildings, without any military purpose.
According to him, the allies hope that Ukraine will be able to protect its citizens from Russian drones and missiles.
"Many participants in today's meeting also supported the proposal to provide air defence missiles and other heavy weapons," Austin said.
He noted that the partners understand the needs of Ukrainians, and the initial goals of providing the Armed Forces with the most necessary military assistance have been achieved. In addition, the EU proposes to speed up the production and supply of ammunition for Ukraine.
According to Austin, the parameters of potential operations and the plan to assist the Ukrainian army have been developed over several months:
"In fact, we set out to provide Ukraine with a strong military capability by providing Breadly, Stryker, other equipment, and in fact, throughout the whole time, we have been providing ammunition to make the Ukrainians successful on the battlefield. It's been a challenging job, but we've achieved our original goals of providing the essentials," Austin said, urging the allies to do "more and more".
When asked about the possibility of supplying Ukraine with fighter jets, he said: "We all believe that what Ukraine needs most right now is air defence systems to protect itself from Russian massive missile attacks. This is the No. 1 priority, particularly in the short term."
For his part, Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov also stressed after the Ramstein meeting that Ukraine's main need at the moment is air defence systems. Combat aircraft will be the next stage of negotiations on military assistance.
"Today we have confirmed our need for Western aircraft as part of our air defence system. And I am sure that we will have modern, generation 4++ combat aircraft. But right now we are talking about the main needs - ground-based air defence. Of course, we are discussing combat aircraft as the next stage, but it will take time to train pilots, engineers, etc. But it will be done," he said.
According to the minister, it is now more realistic to supply ground-based systems to Ukraine.
Abrams tanks will change the situation on the battlefield
The head of the Pentagon has confirmed that M1A1 Abrams tanks will arrive in Germany to train the Ukrainian Armed Forces over the next few weeks.
For his part, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said that the delivery of Abrams to the Ukrainian Armed Forces would change the situation on the battlefield.
"I think Abrams are the most advanced tanks available today. As soon as they are used in combat, we will see how the situation will change. No one has ever taught tankers how to operate this equipment, so it is a priority for us to train a sufficient number of tank brigades," he said.
However, the general stressed that "there is no silver bullet in war" and that tanks alone will not be able to change anything dramatically, but a comprehensive approach will produce results.
According to Milley, the United States also helped provide equipment and training for nine Ukrainian mechanised brigades. They are now "manned, equipped and ready for combat operations".
"So, whenever and wherever Ukraine decides to use them, we will continue to support them, and I am confident in our chances of success," he concluded.
Modernisation of T-72 tanks
The Czech Republic has expressed its readiness to upgrade several dozen more T-72 tanks as part of a partnership project with the United States and the Netherlands to strengthen military support for Kyiv. Out of the more than 90 T-72 tanks planned for modernisation, Ukraine has already received 37, "and more are being added every month".
"We propose to increase the production rate by dozens more (tanks - ed.) if partners are interested in financing this project," said Ales Vitechka, director of the Czech Intergovernmental Defence Cooperation Agency (AMOS).
Czech Deputy Defence Minister Daniel Blažkovec said that the Czech Republic is ready to negotiate the establishment of a centre for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of heavy equipment on the basis of the state-owned VOP and several private companies.
Will there be fighter jets?
According to Milley, providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets is a political decision. The United States is now relying on powerful air defence systems for Ukraine.
"The occupied territories or the recently liberated ones suffer the most. We understand that a lot of missiles continue to be fired there. ...When we talk about fighter jets, it requires a lot of training for pilots, and now, if we compare how much time we have, we use it optimally and focus on air defence," Milley said.
He added that Russia is now being very careful with missiles, realising that Ukrainian air defences are very effective and fail to hit targets.
The Pentagon understands what the situation on the battlefield will be like in the critical months ahead
According to Austin, the US Defence Department understands what the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine will be like in the critical months ahead.
He noted that Minister of Defence of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov informed about the dynamics at the front, how the strength is being built up and how it is possible to receive military training and operate NATO equipment.
"We also understand what processes are needed to ensure uninterrupted logistics and maintenance of equipment coming from different countries," the Pentagon chief said.
On the leaked Pentagon documents
Austin also commented on the incident with the leak of classified documents from the Pentagon. He said that he had had many contacts with allies and partners and concluded that this would not disrupt overall unity and resolve.
"Nothing will break our unity or diminish our resolve," the US defence chief said, adding that he was taking the issue "very seriously".
Earlier, the Pentagon announced a "practical" discussion to discuss Ukraine's immediate needs and future defence.
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the allies to be as active as possible to accelerate the common victory. He said that he expects Ramstein 11 to make solid decisions that are in line with the prospects on the battlefield.
As Zelenskyy said on April 20 at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in preparation for the Ukrainian Armed Forces' counteroffensive, the allies need to discuss weapons that Kyiv has been waiting for for a long time.
"In particular, this is training between our pilots' missions, appropriate long-range weapons, very specific, with very specific partners, with a very specific number, which was agreed upon," the president said.
As reported by OBOZREVATEL:
- On April 21, Ramstein Day, Canada announced a new military aid package worth $29 million to Ukraine. It will include weapons, radios, fuel and other equipment.
- Opening the meeting, Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin said that since the beginning of the war, NATO has provided Ukraine with military assistance worth more than $55 billion.
- The Office of the President of Ukraine has named a priority for Ramstein 11. Long-range missiles are a key tool for destroying the occupiers' logistics.
- On the eve of Ramstein, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi discussed the priority needs of our army with Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was preparing for the 11th Ramstein as much as possible. The prospects for such a summit are healthy and promise fruitful results, not only for our country but also for the entire anti-war coalition.
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