Pentagon reveals value of military aid pumped into Ukraine
The so-called Ukraine Defense Contact Group has committed almost $65 billion in military aid to prop up Kiev in the conflict with Moscow, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has revealed.
The Pentagon boss made the estimate during the 12th meeting of the group, which brings together all 31 NATO nations, as well as a handful of ‘non-aligned’ countries. Washington is “committed to standing with Ukraine for the long haul,” Austin announced.
“In total, the Contact Group has committed nearly $65 billion in security assistance,” he said, claiming that Ukraine’s backers remain “as united as ever.”
“And, last week, President Biden announced that the United States will support a joint effort with our allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s. We hope this training will begin in the coming weeks,” Austin declared.
Apart from supplying modern combat aircraft to Kiev, the US is now focusing on providing Ukraine with “additional air-defense systems and munitions,” he said. The air defenses are “crucial” for “protecting Ukraine’s skies and civilian infrastructure from Russia’s assault,” he added.
Moscow has consistently said it has been exclusively targeting military or dual-purpose sites in the country. It has also accused Kiev of subjecting cities near the frontlines to indiscriminate artillery and rocket attacks, which have resulted in multiple civilian casualties over the course of the conflict.
Russia has repeatedly warned Ukraine’s Western backers against pouring assorted weaponry into the country, as doing so would only prolong the conflict and inflict more suffering on civilians.
That stance was reiterated by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Thursday, as he accused Kiev’s supporters of “forcing” its troops into battle to show “tactical successes” no matter what.
“The West is forcing the Kiev regime, regardless of losses, to show tactical successes and willingness to fight ‘to the last Ukrainian’ and pumping it with weapons,” Shoigu stated at a meeting of the council of defense ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Minsk, Belarus.