NATO pledges to strengthen support of Ukrainian defenses

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Western partners of Ukraine on Wednesday to now provide more Patriot anti-aircraft defense systems.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi (left) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi (left) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo courtesy: president.gov.ua

NATO countries strongly condemned the latest Russian airstrikes against Ukraine on Thursday and pledged to continue bolstering Ukrainian defenses.

This was stated by the allies in a statement at the end of a NATO-Ukraine Council meeting held today, convened in response to the recent Russian attacks.

The meeting was convened at the ambassadorial level and was requested by Ukraine.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana chaired the Council, which was attended via video conference by Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.

“The ongoing attacks by Russia against the civilian population and critical infrastructure of Ukraine demonstrate the urgent need for our continued support,” Geoana said.

NATO recalled in the statement that the allies are providing unprecedented military, financial, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

As an example, it noted that France will soon send more Caesar howitzers, while several allies have joined the Czech initiative to acquire 800,000 additional artillery shells for Kyiv.

It also pointed out that NATO is working on establishing a joint analysis, training, and education center in the Polish town of Bydgoszcz, where Ukrainian forces will be able to train alongside allied troops.

Additionally, within NATO’s overall aid package, the Alliance is providing non-lethal support to Ukraine.

Allied leaders agreed at the summit held in Vilnius last July to create the NATO-Ukraine Council, a forum in which both parties can, on an equal footing, consult and make decisions in crisis situations.

On Monday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense estimated that more than two thousand Russian cruise and ballistic missiles had been shot down by Ukrainian forces since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.

Furthermore, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Western partners of Ukraine on Wednesday to now provide more Patriot anti-aircraft defense systems, just minutes after Russia struck the southern city of Mykolaiv with a ballistic missile.

“The time between the air alert and the attack was only a couple of minutes. These missiles pose an extreme danger to human life,” he said in an online press conference with foreign media.

The attack has caused at least six injuries, one of whom is in serious condition, as reported on his Telegram channel by Mykolaiv Governor Vitali Kim.

“Unfortunately, our cities face this reality on a daily basis. Therefore, Ukraine urgently needs more air defense systems and interceptors, particularly Patriots and other systems capable of intercepting ballistic missiles,” Kuleba emphasized.

He stressed that “Patriots are available in the world,” so Ukraine’s partners “can provide them if there is enough political will.”

“And this will must happen now!” insisted the Ukrainian foreign minister.

He argued that Ukraine is currently the only country in the world being attacked almost daily with ballistic missiles.

“Patriots must be deployed in Ukraine now to protect real human lives instead of remaining in areas where the threat is zero,” he emphasized.

He asserted that more anti-aircraft defense systems, which are defensive rather than offensive in nature, would not only save thousands of lives but also result in less destruction of critical infrastructure, thus requiring less funds for Ukraine’s recovery.

Furthermore, he added, if every Ukrainian city were protected by Patriots, “thousands of Ukrainians would return” from abroad and bolster the economy, which would consequently depend less on financial assistance from its partners.

Lastly, he explained, these systems would provide cover for Ukrainian troops, who could “turn the tide of the war in favor of Ukraine,” as Russia’s main advantage on the battlefield currently lies in its extensive use of guided aerial bombs weighing between 500 and 1,500 kilograms on average.

“That allows Russian occupiers to literally annihilate entire areas before advancing through their ruins,” Kuleba stated.

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