by Phil Stewart
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany, April 26 (Reuters) – The United States is hosting a conference on Tuesday to bring together more than 40 countries to discuss defense issues related to Ukraine, with the aim of arming Kyiv so that it can defend itself against the potentially decisive offensive launched by Russia in the east of the country.
The event will be chaired by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. It comes following a trip to Kyiv by the head of the Pentagon during which the latter promised the Ukrainian President, Volodimir Zelensky, additional support in the war against Russia.
According to US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, one of the main objectives of the talks is to synchronize and coordinate increased security assistance to Ukraine including heavy weapons as well as armed drones and ammunition.
Speaking to reporters on board the plane carrying him to Germany, he said the next few weeks would be “really decisive”. Ukraine “needs continued support to be successful on the battlefield”, he added. “And that is really the purpose of this conference.”
Pushed back by Ukrainian fighters in the capital Kyiv, in northern Ukraine, Russia has redeployed its troops to the east to carry out a ground offensive in the Donbass, whose control is now its stated priority objective.
While Moscow has advanced capabilities and a larger number of troops, while having, according to experts and economists, the economic means to wage a long war in Ukraine despite Western sanctions, Kyiv is relying on the morale of its troops, evolving tactics on the ground, and weapons and intelligence provided by Washington and its allies.
Ukrainians “can win if they have the right equipment, the right support,” Lloyd Austin said after visiting Kyiv.
(Report Phil Stewart; French version Jean Terzian)