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Ukraine calls on NATO allies to give Kiev ‘all weapons it needs’

Ukrainian army soldiers take part in a military sweep to search for possible remnants of Russian troops after their withdrawal from villages in the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine, on April 1, 2022. (Photo by AP)

Ukraine has called on members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to provide Kiev with all the weaponry it needs to fight Russia, as Moscow continues a military offensive against the country.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made the remark at a NATO foreign ministers meeting in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Thursday.

"My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it. It's weapons, weapons, and weapons," Kuleba said.

"I call on all allies to put aside their hesitations, their reluctance, to provide Ukraine with everything it needs," he added.

Kuleba further criticized Western allies that remain reluctant to send so-called "offensive" arms to Ukraine, saying given the country’s situation, "this distinction between defensive and offensive doesn't make any sense."

"Those countries who are saying we will provide Ukraine with defensive weapons, but we are not in a position to provide them with offensive weapons — they are hypocritical, this is simply unfair, unjustified approach," he said.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he was certain that allies would "address the need for more air defense systems, anti-tank weapons, lighter, but also heavier weapons and many different types of support to Ukraine."

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also said Berlin was looking closely with its partners at how they can support Ukraine in the future, "more intensively and more coordinated, because they have a right of self-defense."

Ukraine is pushing the West to increase its arms supplies with heavier weaponry, including air defense systems, artillery, tanks, and jets, as Moscow refocuses its offensive on the east of the country.

The latest development comes as NATO ministers of defense have already agreed to task military commanders to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia at an emergency meeting last month.

Those plans include deploying more troops and "more pre-positioned equipment and supplies" on land, strengthening "integrated air and missile defense systems," and deploying "sea carrier strike groups, submarines, and significant numbers of combat ships on a permanent basis."

US President Joe Biden also announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine on March 16, with the new package including drones, anti-armor, and anti-aircraft systems.

On April 1, the Pentagon announced an extra $300 million in military aid to Ukraine.

The US has so far provided over $2.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Russia launched its military offensive against the country on February 24.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and the military alliance therefore has no formal obligation to intervene to stop the war. But Ukraine is bordered by four NATO members: Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Further north, Russia borders the three Baltic states, each of which are NATO members: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Moscow has repeatedly warned NATO against sending more weapons and troops near Russia, and some NATO members have cautioned that such moves would drastically escalate tensions.

Russia says it will halt the military operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow's list of demands, including never applying to join NATO.

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