News World

NATO believes Ukraine can retake land as allies mull new support

US aid blockage having 'impact' on Ukraine: NATO chief
Source: Video Screenshot

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Friday he was confident Ukraine could regain ground in a much-anticipated counter-offensive, as allies vowed unwavering support for Kyiv at a key meeting hosted by the US.

Representatives from around 50 nations met in Germany to pore through “all the different capabilities, systems, supplies that the Ukrainians need to be able to retake more land”.

“I’m confident that they will now be in a position to be able to liberate even more land,” Stoltenberg told journalists, when asked if Kyiv has what it needs to successfully execute its offensive.

Stoltenberg had joined talks at the Ramstein air base after travelling on Thursday to Kyiv, where he met President Volodymyr Zelensky, who urged Western allies to send more fighter jets and long-range missiles to help repel Russian troops.

Stoltenberg acknowledged the need to discuss “new platforms” of support with the battle now in its second year. But he also underlined the need to ensure that already supplied weapons continued to work.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was hosting the Ramstein talks, also said three key issues were on the table — “air defence, ammunition and enablers” — a reference to logistics and other support.

“Our support for the forces of freedom in Ukraine holds strong and true,” he said, adding that “we will support Ukraine for as long as it takes”.

Moscow reacted with anger to the latest gathering in Ramstein, with the Russian foreign ministry saying the allies’ action for Ukraine “confirms their direct involvement in the conflict and participation in the planning of military operations”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also accused NATO of trying to “absorb and drag Ukraine into the alliance”, showing Russia was right to “launch this operation” to ensure its security.

Air defence

Zelensky on Thursday asked for NATO‘s help to “overcome the reluctance” of some member states in providing long-range rockets, modern fighter jets and armoured vehicles.

NATO members have forwarded Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine but have held off sending more modern models such as the US-designed F-16 sought after by Kyiv.

They have however provided Ukraine with anti-air missiles, with Kyiv earlier in the week saying it had received the first shipment of Patriots, seen as one of the most advanced US air defence systems.

Western partners have also backed Ukraine with deliveries of modern battle tanks, artillery and stacks of other weapons to help roll back Moscow’s invasion.

“We are not letting up,” German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said after talks.

Training of 100 Ukrainian soldiers on the German-made Leopard 1 tanks will begin on Saturday, Pistorius said.

Berlin, along with allies in Denmark and the Netherlands, would also begin with the delivery of “up to 80” Leopard 1 tanks from the middle of this year, he added.

In eastern Ukraine’s Lugansk region, AFP saw a group of servicemen using British-supplied artillery several kilometres from Russian positions.

One hauled shells to the UK-made gun from a nearby cache, while others set coordinates and loaded the barrel before the final order to “Fire!”.

“There are the planned targets that we work on. And some appear unexpectedly, for example, to repel an assault when the enemy advances,” said Bogdan, a 40-year-old Ukrainian serviceman from the embattled town of Bakhmut.

“The enemy is using few military vehicles. Infantry, which is what the enemy has plenty of, goes forward,” he said.

NATO bid

During Stoltenberg’s visit to Kyiv, the NATO chief was also pressed on allowing Ukraine to join the alliance, but he stressed it was not an immediate priority.

“All NATO allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a NATO member, but the main focus now is of course on how to ensure that Ukraine prevails,” he said on Friday at Ramstein.

“Without a sovereign, independent Ukraine, there is no meaning in discussing membership,” he said.

The NATO chief also said the alliance was examining a “multi-year programme to help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era equipment standards (and) doctrines to NATO standards and doctrines.”

Over a year into its invasion, Russia struck Kyiv with drones overnight in the first such attack for almost a month, although city officials reported no casualties.

Moscow suffered a setback with one of its fighter jets losing munitions over Belgorod near the Ukrainian border.

The region of Belgorod has been repeatedly shelled since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.



About the author


Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

Daily Newsletter