At a meeting of allies on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin proposed a new security assistance package for Ukraine to fight Russian aggressors.
At their second meeting, about four dozen countries and organizations forming the Ukraine Defense Contact Group met online to discuss helping Ukraine, and 20 countries pledged arms, ammunition and other supplies to support Kiev.
The group was briefed by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on the current state of the three-month-old war, where the two sides are fighting along a long front line over Russian-occupied territory in eastern and southern Ukraine.
“Today, with Minister Reznikov and his team, we have gained a sharp and shared understanding of Ukraine’s priority needs and the situation on the battlefield,” Austin said.
“Many countries are critically donating much-needed artillery ammunition, coastal defenses and tanks and other armored vehicles,” he said.
Others, he added, are training Ukraine’s military.
He said Denmark was committed to sending a Harpoon anti-ship missile system, and the Czech Republic was offering attack attack helicopters, tanks and rocket systems.
Harpoon is a cruise missile that can target ships up to 187 miles (300 kilometers) offshore, depending on the type.
Harpoons are usually mounted on ships or aircraft, but Denmark is the only country that has adopted land-based measures for coastal protection.
The Danish battery will add a layer of security to the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, which is believed to be under threat of Russian attack from the sea.
They could also reach the port of Sevastopol, where there are some Russian Black Sea fleets.
– Long-range rocket –
Austin will not elaborate on what is included in a new $ 40 billion US aid package for Ukraine, speculation that it may include high-precision, long-range rockets that could be used to strike Russian territory.
Ukraine wants long-range rocket, M270 MLRS and M142 Himmers mobile batteries from the United States.
They can launch multiple rockets at the same time with a range of up to 187 miles, eight times the distance of field artillery.
This could enable Ukrainian forces to reach targets far behind Russian lines.
This could allow them to hit good targets inside Russia, although it is not clear if this is their intention.
Since the first meeting of the arms donors group at a US base in Germany four weeks ago, Austin has said that “the pace of grants and distribution has been outstanding.”
He said Ukraine’s demand had not changed much since the previous meeting and that the war was being driven by artillery backed by tanks, drones and other equipment.
“Fighting at this stage has actually been shaped by artillery, and we’ve seen serious exchanges of artillery fire over the past few weeks,” Austin said.
“Everyone here understands the impact of this war and they have spread beyond Europe,” he added.
“Russia’s aggression is an insult to the rule-based international system.”
The Ukraine Defense Contact Group is scheduled to meet in person on June 15 during a NATO ministerial-level meeting in Brussels, Austin said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)