A group of nine NATO countries, including Britain and Poland, have pledged a raft of new military aid to support Ukraine in its war against Russia, defying Moscow’s repeated warnings about the protraction of the months-long conflict by funneling Western arms into the former Soviet republic.
The pledge was made in a gathering at a military base near the Estonian capital of Tallinn, with the NATO member states’ officials vowing to provide Kiev with missiles, stinger air defense systems, anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, training, and other equipment and services.
“The West must stay united and continue to support Ukraine with military aid,” Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told a news conference held jointly with his British counterpart and other officials. “What Ukraine needs most is heavy weaponry…The hardest battles are still ahead.”
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also said Britain, which has already announced plans to send heavy battle tanks to Ukraine, would send 600 Brimstone missiles.
Poland was sending S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 rounds of ammunition and was ready to donate a company of German-made Leopard 2 tanks, “pending (a) wider coalition” of Leopard donors, according to a joint statement from the meeting.
Germany is also expected to provide Ukraine with Leopard tanks. However, the European country has been cautious about supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz facing mounting pressure within Europe to authorize exports of German-made Leopard tanks.
Hours after the meeting near the Estonian capital, the Danish government announced it would donate 19 French-made Caesar howitzer artillery systems to Ukraine.
The pledge by the NATO countries came as the United States on Thursday announced a whopping new package of arms and munitions for Ukraine worth $2.5 billion, defying Moscow’s repeated warnings against supplying Kiev with heavy weaponry almost a year into the devastating war.
The US package does not feature Western battle tanks requested by Ukraine but includes 59 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 90 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers, 53 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, and 350 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, as well as large and small munitions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the package brings US military assistance for Ukraine to some $27.4 billion.
Since the start of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine last February, the United States and its European allies have supplied hundreds of armored vehicles to Kiev as part of large military packages.
The UK announced last weekend that it would send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, Denmark promised 19 French-made Caesar howitzers, Sweden its Archer artillery system, and Germany said last week it would provide the country Marder armored vehicles.
Finland announced on Friday a new donation of more than 400 million euros ($434 million) worth of military equipment for Ukraine, not including Leopard 2
heavy tanks which it said it could also send if there is an agreement with allies.
The new donation would triple the total value of Finland's military aid to Ukraine, bringing the total so far to 590 million euros, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Russia started what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine with the declared aim of "de-Nazifying" the country on February 24, 2022.
Since then, the United States and Europe have imposed unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow while giving Ukraine tens of billions of dollars worth of weaponry, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, and communications systems.
The Kremlin has time and again warned that Western military assistance to Kiev will only prolong the war.