Forty Nations Meet at Ramstein Air Base To Plan More Weapons for Ukraine’s ‘Arsenal of Democracy’
April 26, 2022 (EIRNS)—Representatives of 40 nations met today at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base for a meeting of the so-called Ukraine Defense Consultative Group to discuss ramping up weapons deliveries as quickly as possible, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who opened the proceedings, having just come from Kyiv. He was followed by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, who analyzed Russia’s “shift in tactics and strategy,” especially in the Donbas, and by U.S. European Command head Gen. Tod Wolters, who spoke about Ukraine’s military requirements. The group decided that they will meet annually.
Austin dedicated his opening remarks to lavishing praise on the Ukrainian military for its “magnificent job defending its sovereignty against Russia’s unprovoked invasion,” which he said would “go down in military history.” Now, he said, all nations must step up to ensure that more aid is forthcoming to strengthen Ukraine’s (badly misnamed) “arsenal of democracy.” Claiming that Ukrainian forces had defeated Russia “at the Battle of Kyiv”—a non-existent battle, as taking Kyiv was never part of Moscow’s military strategy—and that Ukraine is winning while Russia is failing, Austin nonetheless argued that time is of the essence now, to get even more military aid to Ukraine to fight against “Russia’s imperial aggression,” which is “an affront to the rules-based order.” Ukraine believes it can win, “and so does everyone here,” Austin maintained, so now “we’re going to keep on moving heaven and earth” to get the job done. Why? Because the stakes “stretch beyond Ukraine—and even beyond Europe.” Where else? To the Indo-Pacific? The Solomon Islands? Taiwan?
Gen. Mark Milley’s speech wasn’t quite so upbeat. He warned that Ukraine requires more security assistance to defend against Russia’s “unfolding and potentially decisive onslaught in the East,” and thus the next few weeks will be “critical,” he said, according to Reuters. In remarks to a closed-door session, later made available to reporters, he bluntly stated that “time is not on Ukraine’s side.” So, he told his audience, “the outcome of this battle, right here, today, is dependent on the people in this room. The Ukrainians will fight. We need to make sure they have the means to fight.”
Reuters cited reports from unnamed U.S. officials who described the Russian strategy of coming at Ukrainian forces from different directions, surrounding them and wiping them out. But these officials also retailed the line put out by the Ukrainians and some Western military sources that Russian forces “are depleted,” with losses as high as 30%, which these sources say wouldn’t allow them to keep fighting. U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is claiming that 15,000 Russian troops have been killed, and 2,000 armored vehicles and 530 tanks destroyed. But other U.S. sources point out that Russia still has advanced capabilities and superior force numbers and can afford to wage a long war in Ukraine.
At the outset, organizers emphasized that this was not a “NATO ministerial,” because not everyone attending was a NATO member. Among the invitees were Pacific partners South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, four African nations (Tunisia, Liberia, Morocco and Kenya), and Jordan, Qatar, and Israel. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also attended. In an April 22 briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby responded uneasily to a question about the Ramstein event that “this is outside of the NATO rubric.... As you know, NATO as an alliance is not providing security assistance to Ukraine, so this is not being done under the NATO umbrella at all. Now, some of the nations ... are, in fact, NATO allies, but they're doing this in a—a sovereign unilateral way, not as a part of the alliance.”
At the end of the meeting, several countries reportedly made commitments to provide more weapons to Ukraine, but no details were made available.