WASHINGTON – Denmark will arm Ukraine with a modern anti-ship launcher “Harpoon” and missiles to protect its shores, said Defense Minister Lloyd Austin on Monday after the last US-led meeting of international defense chiefs to coordinate military aid. Ukraine.
The announcement came after Russia blocked Odessa, Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port, threatening global food supplies. At a joint news conference with Austin, Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Millie said Ukraine, a major grain producer, could not use Odessa as a transit point for 90 days because of the Russian navy, but he said the United States would not intervene more directly.
“I think this is very important for Ukraine’s economy and many countries around the world depend on Ukrainian grain,” Mili said. “As for what we are doing on the issue, we do not currently have any naval assets in the Black Sea, we do not intend to do so. There is currently a stalemate among Ukrainians who want to make sure there is no landing around Odessa. This is currently prohibited for merchant ships. “
The Contact Group for Ukraine, which included 40 member states at the inaugural meeting at Rammstein Air Base in Germany on April 26th, has since grown to 47 participants. Austin said Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Ireland and Kosovo are among the newly represented countries helping Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.
Italy, Greece, Norway and Poland will donate artillery systems and ammunition, Austin said. He also praised the Czech Republic for transferring attack helicopters, tanks and missile systems to Kyiv.
Although Pentagon officials said the focus was on Ukraine’s immediate needs against the Russian invasion, Ukrainian officials are also seeking donations to meet their future needs. Prior to the meeting, Austin said these long-term needs were on the agenda.
“We will deepen our responsibility for security assistance to Ukraine and discuss how we can strengthen and modernize Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces in the long run, to ensure that they can deter aggression in the future,” Austin said.
Also on the agenda on Monday, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov had to offer up-to-date information on Ukraine’s struggle and needs. Last week, Reznikov said Ukraine needed tanks and armored vehicles, as well as rocket-propelled grenades, heavy artillery, planes and missiles.
Austin said during a post-briefing briefing that Ukrainians continue to want long-range fire, armor and unmanned aerial vehicles.
He declined to say whether the United States would provide high-mobility artillery missile systems or HIMARS, but said that Ukraine’s battle was “really shaped by artillery at this stage and we are witnessing a serious exchange of artillery fire over the past few weeks.”
At Ramstein last month, Australia and Canada pledged to supply M777 howitzers, which have since been delivered to Ukrainian forces. Since then, the United Kingdom has supplied Brimstone missiles and a short-range air defense system.
“Many more countries have been pushing hard for new training missions, and we’ve seen these efforts change things in real time,” Austin said ahead of Monday’s meeting. “Now that Ukraine’s struggle continues, our efforts must be stepped up and we must plan for all the challenges ahead.
President Joe Biden, who ruled out US forces in direct conflict with Russia, sent billions of dollars in military aid, which helped Ukraine tighten more than expected resistance to Russian pressure.
In recent days, Biden has signed a $ 40 billion aid package linked to Ukraine and sent the latest howitzers and other weapons worth $ 100 million from the previous $ 13.6 billion package adopted by Congress in March. This marked the 10th tranche of US aid.
Biden told a news conference in Tokyo on Monday that deterring China from attacking Taiwan was one of the reasons why it was important for Russian President Vladimir Putin to “pay a high price for his barbarism in Ukraine” so that China and other nations could not get the idea that such an action is acceptable, the Associated Press reported.
While the United States is committed to providing long-term assistance to Ukraine, Austin cannot say what will have to happen to end the conflict, whether there may be a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine or the expulsion of Russian troops from the country. .
“What [the] “The final state seems to be determined by the Ukrainians, not us,” Austin said. “So we’ll leave that to President Zelenski and his leadership to talk about it, you know how this transition goes.”
Joe Gould is a senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, policy and the defense industry.
Megan Myers is the head of the Pentagon’s Military Times bureau. It covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting the military. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT