Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his government was expecting “strong decisions” from defense leaders of Nato and other countries meeting on Friday to discuss boosting Ukraine’s ability to confront Russian forces with modern battle tanks.
A group of 11 Nato countries have pledged a raft of new military aid for Ukraine, ahead of a crunch meeting on arms for Kyiv in Germany on Friday. The aid from countries including Britain, Estonia, Latvia and Poland will include dozens of stinger air defense systems, S-60 anti-aircraft guns, machine guns and training, according to a statement.
The US has announced $2.5bn in new weaponry and ammunition for Ukraine. The package includes 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers, an additional 59 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Avenger air defense systems, and large and small munitions, according to a Pentagon statement.
CIA Director William Burns recently traveled in secret to Ukraine’s capital to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a US official told Reuters on Thursday. “Director Burns traveled to Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian intelligence counterparts as well as President Zelenskiy and reinforced our continued support for Ukraine and its defense against Russian aggression,” the US official, who declined to be identified or say when the visit took place .
Britain plans to send 600 Brimstone missiles to Ukraine to support the country in its fight against Russia, defense minister Ben Wallace announced. Speaking at a meeting with other defense ministers at the Tapa army base in Estonia, Wallace outlined a previously announced package of military support for Ukraine, including sending Challenger tanks. “We’re in it for the long haul,” he said.
Sweden’s government announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine that will include armored infantry fighting vehicles and the Archer artillery system. Poland said it 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.
Lithuania’s defense minister, Arvydas Anušauskas, has said several countries will announce sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine at Friday’s meeting of defense ministers at the Ramstein airbase in Germany. The total number of armored vehicles pledged at tomorrow’s meeting would go into hundreds, Anušauskas told Reuters.
Estonia’s defense minister, Hanno Pevkur, announced his country will send military equipment to Ukraine worth €113m in its latest package of support.
Denmark announced it will donate 19 French-made Caesar howitzer artillery systems to Kyiv.
The US and German defense ministers met on Thursday as Berlin faces pressure to allow the transfer of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine. The meeting between Lloyd Austin and Boris Pistorius came as a German government source told Reuters that Berlin would allow Leopard tanks to be sent to Ukraine to help its defense against Russia if the US agreed to send its own tanks. But US officials have publicly and privately insisted that Washington has no plans to send US-made tanks to Ukraine for now, arguing that they would be too difficult for Kyiv to maintain and would require a huge logistical effort to simply run.
A German government spokesperson has said it has yet to receive a request from any country for permission to re-export German-made tanks to Ukraine. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has signaled that it could send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as part of a wider coalition even without Germany’s approval. “Consent is of secondary importance here, we will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do what is needed ourselves,” Morawiecki said.
The Kremlin has said Russia will achieve its goals in Ukraine “one way or another” and the sooner Kyiv accepts its demands, the sooner the conflict will end. The Kremlin has repeatedly said Russia is ready to halt military operations if Ukraine meets its demands, but Moscow has not publicly outlined details of its negotiating position or what it is seeking from Kyiv in order to end hostilities.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, says he worries the world is becoming complacent about the dangers posed by the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Grossi, speaking to reporters in Kyiv, said a nuclear accident could happen any day and reiterated the situation at the plant was very precarious.
Moldova has requested air defense systems from its allies with the aim of strengthening its capabilities as the war in neighboring Ukraine continues, its president, Maia Sandu, said. Moldova’s spy chief, Alexandru Musteata, warned last month of a “very high” risk of a new Russian offensive towards his country’s east and said Moscow still aimed to secure a land corridor through Ukraine to the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria.
A Swedish court has sentenced two brothers to prison for spying for Russia and its military intelligence service GRU for a decade. Iranian-born Peyman Kia, 42, was sentenced to life, while his younger brother, Payam Kia, was sentenced to nine years and 10 months.