NATO, US to discuss supplying 'heavier weapons' to Ukraine

AP , Wednesday 18 Jan 2023

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Ukraine's Western backers this week will discuss ways to supply heavier and more advanced weapons to help it fight Russia.

Ukraine electric plant
File photo: A worker at a power plant, tries to repair damages after a Russian attack in central Ukraine, Jan. 5, 2023. AP


The so-called Ukraine Contact Group will gather at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Thursday and Friday. It consists of about 50 top defense officials, including U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who work to coordinate military contributions to Ukraine.

Stoltenberg said Wednesday during a session at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that "the main message there will be: more support, more advanced support, heavier weapons and more modern weapons.''

He says, "This is a fight for our values, this is a fight for democracy and we just have to prove that democracy wins over tyranny and oppression.''

NATO's leader says supplying Ukraine with more equipment long term will help force Russian President Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table.

Speaking at the opening of the military chiefs' meeting in Brussels, Mircea Geoana said NATO nations must invest more in defense, ramp up military industrial manufacturing and harness new technologies to prepare for future wars.

Russia is preparing for an extended war so NATO must get ready "for the long haul'' and support Ukraine for as long as it takes, the alliance's deputy secretary general told military chiefs from across Europe on Wednesday.

"We have no indication that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's goals have changed," said Geoana, noting that Russia has mobilized more than 200,000 additional troops. "So we must be prepared for the long haul. 2023 will be a difficult year and we need to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.''

Separately on Tuesday, U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met quietly with Ukraine's chief military officer, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, at an undisclosed location in southeastern Poland, near the Ukrainian border. And he is expected to relay Zaluzhnyi's concerns to the other military leaders at the meeting.

Milley's meeting with Zaluzhnyi was quickly arranged when it became clear Monday that the Ukrainian chief would not be able to attend the NATO sessions in person. He's expected to attend by video conference on Thursday.

In this context, the Biden administration is now providing $125 million for electrical parts and other supplies to help repair crews in Ukraine keep up with Russian strikes pounding the country's electrical system, the U.S. international development aid chief said Wednesday.

The U.S. Agency for International Development plans to use the money to procure backup power for Kyiv's water and district-heating systems. The funding also will help replenish supplies of gas turbines, transformers and other vital power equipment.

USAID administration Samantha Power, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, announced the funding in a statement Wednesday. USAID says the money comes from the supplemental Ukraine funding approved by Congress last month.

Russian forces since October have intensified strikes on Ukraine's electrical grid and other critical infrastructure, repeatedly plunging Ukrainians into darkness and winter cold. Utility workers and others are scrambling during what have been nearly weekly barrages on infrastructure to restore electricity and heating.

Past USAID energy assistance since Russia invaded Ukraine in February included delivery of 1,415 generators to keep the heat and lights on at schools, hospitals and other sites across Ukraine. USAID also has invested $55 million in Ukraine's heating infrastructure.

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