Starting Tuesday, February 14, and for two days, the contact group of 50 countries, led by the United States, and the defense ministers of the Atlantic Alliance meet in Brussels. The two meetings have a common goal: addressing Ukraine’s military needs in time for what is expected to be Russia’s one-year anniversary offensive.
February 24 will mark one year since Moscow launched its so-called “special military operation” by order of President Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine’s allies hope to define by then a way of anticipate an eventual intensification of Russian attackswhile also debating how to respond to a depletion of military inventories that is running faster than replenishment capacity.
For this, the Secretary of Defense of the United States Lloyd Austin will lead this Tuesday the call “Ramstein format”, by the German military base where the contact group met for the first time, a meeting in which his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Resnikov will participate. Next, the 30 NATO Defense Ministers will meet.
“The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of ammunition and depleting the reserves of the allies,” warned the secretary general of the Atlantic Alliance Jens Stoltenberg on Monday. “Ukraine’s current rate of spending on ammunition is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defense industries under pressure.”
Tanks and anti-aircraft defense at the center of the negotiations
The meeting may miss the point that Ukraine has most vehemently requested: the supply of combat aircraft to face the threat from Russia. Asked about it, Stoltenberg pointed out that the most important thing is to make sure that the promised ground aid (the Leopard 2 tanks) “functions properly”, and that the anti-aircraft defenses “have enough ammunition”.
NATO will address its defense plans and the reinforcement of its military industry, both put to the test by the needs of kyiv.
Jens Stoltenberg prepares his goodbye
The meeting comes two days after NATO confirmed, through its spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, that Stoltenberg will not extend his mandate beyond next September 30, the last of three extensions that have led him to lead the organization for nine years.
The announcement implies that the Alliance will have to deal without the man who has shaped its profile in recent years, marked by the need to deal with Russian claims that began with the annexation of Crimea, precisely the year that Stoltenberg came to office. , 2014.
A former prime minister of Norway, Stoltenberg was the first head of a country bordering Russia to have had NATO. Leader of his country’s Labor Party, he was in power on July 22, 2011, when a far-right extremist killed 76 people in two attacks in Oslo and the island of Utoya.
Finland and Sweden will have to wait at least until July
The NATO expansion, planned after the membership application of Sweden and Finland, will not materialize at least until the summit of allied leaders, which will take place between July 11 and 12 in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“We work closely with the countries pending ratification, Hungary and Turkey, and many of us have said that our interest and expectation is that Sweden and Finland enter the alliance soon. Many allies, including the United States, would like to see it happen ahead of the summit. of Vilnius”, declared Washington’s ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith in an appearance before the media prior to the meeting on Tuesday in Brussels.
Turkey has blocked the entry of both countries arguing Stockholm’s alleged support for sympathizers of Kurdish militias in Syria.
There has recently been speculation about the possibility of a Helsinki-only admission, as Ankara’s veto focuses on Sweden, but Stoltenberg has expressed his desire for both countries to enter together.
With AFP and EFE