Kiev expects further announcements of arms deliveries from the meeting of the Ukraine contact group in Brussels. However, not only is the hope for fighter jets destroyed, there is also literally a spanner in the works with the tanks that have already been promised.
Despite the expected Russian offensive in Ukraine, delivery of main battle tanks and ammunition to Kiev has been slow. On the anniversary of the Russian attack on February 24, Ukraine cannot count on the hoped-for fighter jets either, as became clear at the meeting of more than 50 countries of the Ukraine contact group in Brussels.
"I don't have any announcements about aircraft today," US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said after the deliberations. Under his leadership, the so-called Ukraine Contact Group met at NATO headquarters for the ninth time since the war began almost a year ago. The Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov personally took part in the talks.
Resnikov urged the allies on Twitter to quickly strengthen the "tank coalition" announced by Germany and Poland. He also called for more ammunition - because, according to NATO, Ukraine is using it up much faster than the allies can deliver. When entering, Resnikov also demonstratively waved the image of a fighter plane.
After the meeting, Pentagon boss Austin listed a number of weapons deliveries that had already been announced - including the main battle tanks that Germany and ten other countries had promised Kiev. On his first trip to Brussels since taking office around three weeks ago, Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius expressed "little understanding" for countries like Poland, which after heavy pressure on Berlin are now making little available themselves.
In January, the federal government promised Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 main battle tanks of a newer model. Poland also wants to assemble a battalion of around 30 tanks from an older Leopard 2 model. But things "didn't look that great," criticized Pistorius - "especially with regard to the condition and operational capability of the tanks."
Portugal and Norway also promised deliveries. According to Pistorius, the government in Lisbon wants to provide Ukraine with three tanks of a newer Leopard 2 type. Norway wants to deliver eight Leopard 2 tanks, the Ministry of Defense announced. But it is unclear when they will come.
On the subject of ammunition, Pistorius was able to report progress: In Germany, the urgently needed ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft tank is to be produced again for the first time, of which Berlin Kiev has promised 37 units. According to Pistorius, the Düsseldorf armaments supplier Rheinmetall should start production "immediately". According to reports, it is about 300,000 shots, which can only be delivered to Ukraine from July.
US Chief of Staff Mark Milley said in Brussels that a new Russian offensive would also threaten new attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Austin therefore called on the allies to "deliver air defense systems such as IRIS-T as soon as possible".
Pistorius' predecessor Christine Lambrecht had promised Kiev two more IRIS-T systems for this year, the first of which has already been delivered. According to Pistorius' knowledge, the additional two are to be delivered "in the course of the next few months" - as long as the armaments industry can keep up with production.
Following the Ukraine contact group, the defense ministers of the 30 NATO countries met in Brussels. The meeting until Wednesday is about strengthening arms production, a new target for defense spending and better protection of critical infrastructure such as undersea pipelines.