NATO member states have agreed to supply Ukraine with new types of advanced weapons, alliance officials said, as Kyiv prepares for a new Russian offensive in the east of the country.
The pledge came after Ukraine’s foreign minister asked Western countries to move faster with fresh supplies or instead “see a lot of people dying.” . . because this help came too late”.
Six weeks since Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, ordered the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow’s troops have largely withdrawn from territory north of Kyiv after failing to capture the capital, but are regrouping and rearming before trying to advance into the eastern Donbass region, Western officials say.
This has prompted calls from Kyiv for western countries to supply more heavy weapons, armor and more advanced systems. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he would use a NATO meeting in Brussels to request aircraft, missiles, armored vehicles and heavy air defense systems, among other things.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told reporters after the meeting that member states had supported giving away more weapons.
“There was support for countries to deliver new and heavier equipment to Ukraine so they could respond to these new threats from Russia,” she said. “And we have agreed to help the Ukrainian armed forces on a bilateral basis to switch from their Soviet-era equipment to standard NATO equipment.”
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said Washington was considering sending “new systems” to Ukraine.
“We will not let anything stand in the way of giving Ukrainians what they need,” he said. “We’re looking at all areas right now, not just what we’ve deployed. . . [but] whether there are additional systems that would make a difference.”
The promise of more military aid came as Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, admitted that Russia suffered “significant troop losses” during its invasion of Ukraine, which he described as a “great tragedy for us.”
Peskov said Russia pulled out of central Ukraine’s Kyiv and Chernihiv last week to “give a show of goodwill to ease tensions in those regions and show that Russia is genuinely ready to create comfortable conditions for the continuation of the conflict.” create negotiations”. But fighting will continue in Donbass, he added.
NATO member countries supplied Ukraine with anti-tank missiles, drones and other defensive weapons before and during the war. However, they have refused to supply other classes of weapons or impose a no-fly zone, as Kyiv has requested, over the risk of embroiling Russia in a wider war.
Kuleba afterwards said he was “cautiously optimistic” that allies would heed his request, but warned delays would lead to more deaths.
“Either you help us now, and I’m talking about days . . . or your help will be late,” Kuleba said. “A lot of people will die. . . precisely because this help came too late.”
He added: “I have been very specific about the requests and the timeline in which they should be accommodated. I look forward to the follow-up from allies.”
Ukraine has warned that Russia is preparing a new offensive in Donbass aimed at seizing areas in the two administrative regions of Luhansk and Donetsk that separatists have partially occupied since a Moscow-backed uprising in 2014.
Ukrainian military authorities on Wednesday urged residents living in the regions to leave the region “while they still had the opportunity”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the allies had agreed to “further increase” support for Ukraine immediately and “in the medium and long term”.
“Today’s meeting sent a clear message that allies should and are willing to do more to deliver more equipment. They recognize and recognize the urgency,” he said.
Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly on Thursday voted to suspend Russia from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council in a new international rebuke to Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine and alleged atrocities.
93 UN members approved Russia’s suspension – the first imposed on a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
However, 24 UN members, including China, Iran, Bolivia and Kazakhstan, voted against suspending Russia. Another 58 countries, including India, Indonesia and Egypt, abstained, showing that a wide range of countries are either on Moscow’s side or remain neutral as the military conflict rages on.
Additional reporting by James Politi in Washington
https://www.ft.com/content/1c0e6e15-c8fe-4a84-99dc-12b6836bf0f4 NATO countries agree to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine