Ramstein Air Base, GermanyInternationalIndiaAfricaMOSCOW (Sputnik) – The 11th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted by the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, is scheduled to kick off on Friday. Defense chiefs and other high-ranking officials from over 50 countries which support Ukraine are gathering to discuss the current state of the ongoing conflict and prospects for additional military assistance to Kiev.The meeting will be chaired by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.Commenting on the upcoming meeting at the Ramstein Air Base, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier said that it was crucial to focus on providing Ukraine’s army with much-sought-after, long-range weapons. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, for this part, noted that the Ukrainian delegation’s priority at the event would be to attain air defense systems, armored vehicles and 155 mm shells for heavy artillery.On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during his visit to Kiev, said that the price tag for military assistance to Ukraine has already topped 150 billion euros ($165 billion) since February 2022.MilitaryNATO Air Force Chiefs Meet at Ramstein Air Base to Discuss Defense Capabilities, Space17 March, 15:27 GMTWestern countries have been supplying Ukraine with various types of weapon systems, including air defense missiles, multiple launch rocket systems, tanks, self-propelled artillery, and anti-aircraft guns since Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine over a year ago. Moscow has repeatedly warned that arms deliveries do not contribute to any peaceful resolution but rather escalate the conflict, risking full-scale NATO involvement in the fighting.
Pentagon Chief to Face Challenging Task at Ramstein Base Meeting
Today’s meeting of the Contact Group is taking place against the background of the now-known Pentagon leak, where more than 100 classified US government documents were divulged, which apparently unveiled sensitive intelligence on the state of the Ukrainian military and the US and NATO’s efforts to strengthen the Kiev regime’s forces.Analysts believe that this time, for Austin, the contact group’s meeting won’t be as easy as before, because Kiev was reportedly outraged about the leak of secret documents which revealed Washington’s pessimism about the ability of Ukraine’s armed forces to succeed. The Pentagon chief will have to reassure Kiev and all allies within the Contact Group that the US is still committed to providing all necessary aid to Ukraine and is tirelessly laboring to protect the Pentagon’s classified information, especially data related to Washington’s foreign partners.