June 18, 2024

BRUSSELS (AP) — Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived at NATO for Wednesday’s meetings with alliance defense ministers to further drum up support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

“It’s very important that there are priorities. There are air defense systems. These are not just basic words. These are very concrete things and we need them,” Zelenskyy said on arrival, insisting that long-range missiles were just as essential. He also called for more ammunition, making for the three types of military aid he was looking for.

The U.S. is hosting a meeting of the Ukraine contact group to seek more weapons and ammunition for the war-ravaged country. NATO allies and partner countries will be waiting to hear precisely what kinds of military equipment Kyiv needs.

Following that meeting, the 31 allies and Ukraine will take part in the first NATO-Ukraine Council at this level. The forum was formally established in July as part of efforts to bring Kyiv closer to the alliance. It allows NATO and Kyiv to discuss issues of common interest and concern.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters traveling with him to Brussels that a number of allies will announce they are sending additional weapons and other support to Kyiv. A key demand has been more air defense systems and munitions.

“The energy, in my view, is still there,” said Austin. “And I will reassure them that we are we remain committed to this.”

The meeting comes as Ukraine is desperately seeking more weapons to help its troops regain ground from Russian forces before the muddy weather sets in. But political chaos in Congress and divisions over continued Ukraine funding combined with new pressure to provide U.S. weapons to Israel fuel uncertainty and will likely dominate many of the conversations.

According to a U.S. official, the new package of U.S. aid includes AIM-9M missiles for air defense, counter-drone systems, munitions for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), artillery, electronic warfare equipment, demolition munitions, anti-armor systems and more than 16 million rounds of small arms ammunition.

The weapons are provided under presidential drawdown authority, so will be taken from Pentagon stocks and delivered quickly to the battlefield. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the aid before the official announcement.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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