The United States and its allies pledged new packages of ever heavier weapons for Ukraine during a meeting on Tuesday (local time) at a German air base, brushing off a threat from Moscow that their support for Kyiv could lead to nuclear war.
US officials have switched emphasis this week from speaking mainly about helping Ukraine defend itself to bolder talk of a Ukrainian victory that would weaken Russia’s ability to threaten its neighbours.
Meanwhile, the powerful secretary of Russia’s Security Council said Western and Ukrainian government policy was leading to the breakup of Ukraine, and he accused Washington of seeking to instil in Ukrainians hatred for everything Russian.
NATO allies have lately approved shipments of hundreds of millions of dollars in arms, including artillery and drones they held back from sending in earlier phases of the war, and want their allies to do the same.
“Nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, welcoming officials from more than 40 countries to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, headquarters of U.S. air power in Europe. “Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here.”
In a notable shift, Germany, where the government had come under pressure after refusing Ukrainian pleas for heavy weapons, announced it would now send “Gepard” light tanks with anti-aircraft guns.
“The real significance of this decision lies not in the difference Gepards may make on the battlefield, but in the signal it sends,” said Marcel Dirsus, non-resident fellow at Kiel University’s Institute for Security Policy.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, assess that Russia will rely heavily on artillery strikes to pound Ukrainian positions while moving in ground forces from several directions to try to envelop and wipe out a significant chunk of Ukraine’s military.