US to Host Military Talks on Ukraine in Germany
By Nike Ching April 25, 2022
The United States is planning to host dozens of countries in Germany on Tuesday for talks focused on arming Ukraine. The plans come after top U.S. diplomat and defense officials traveled to Kyiv to promise more U.S. military assistance for the country.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is holding Tuesday's talks at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to coordinate mounting Western security assistance for Ukraine.
U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him to Germany on Monday that Ukraine needs "continued support in order to be successful on the battlefield. And that's really the purpose of this conference."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov are expected to be in attendance.
The meeting follows a trip by Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Kyiv where they pledged more military assistance for Ukraine and to continue to rally other nations to contribute.
Blinken told reporters in Poland after returning from Kyiv that while Russia is trying to "brutalize" parts of Ukraine, "Ukrainians are standing strong, and they're doing that with the support that we have coordinated from literally around the world."
"In terms of Russia's war aims, Russia has already failed," Blinken said, "and Ukraine has already succeeded because the principal aim that (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin brought to this, in his own words, was to fully subsume Ukraine back into Russia, to take away its sovereignty and independence, and that has not happened and clearly will not happen."
Still, Russia launched new attacks Monday, hitting rail and fuel installations far from the front line of its eastern offensive.
The chief of the state-run Ukrainian Railways said five railway facilities were hit early Monday in central and western Ukraine, including a missile attack near the western city of Lviv. At least five people were killed by Russian strikes in the central Vynnytsia region, Ukrainian authorities said.
In all, the Russian Defense Ministry said, its warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian targets overnight. Meanwhile, two fires were reported at oil facilities in western Russia, not far from the Ukrainian border. But it was not clear what caused the blazes.
Blinken said he and Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials for about three hours to both demonstrate U.S. support and to hear from Zelenskyy what his country needs as the conflict moves forward.
"We want to do everything we can to help the Ukrainians bring this to an end on the best possible terms as quickly as possible," Blinken said.
The train ride to Kyiv for top U.S. officials' Sunday meeting with Zelenskyy took 11 hours each way, a senior U.S. official said. The train went through mostly countryside. The blinds were mostly down but U.S. officials were able to peek out every once in a while, the official added.
Zelenskyy was described by a senior administration official as "very focused, very grounded, very detail-oriented" on different aspects of Ukraine's security, economic and humanitarian needs, and the sanctions against Russia, during the meeting.
"I think (Zelenskyy looked) extraordinarily well, remarkably well," the official said.
Zelenskyy's office said Monday the discussions included security guarantees along with defense and financial aid for Ukraine. A statement said the Ukrainian side put a particular focus on increasing sanctions against Russia. "We understand what the next steps on this track should be. And we count on the support of our partners," Zelenskyy said.
The United States is providing additional foreign military financing to Ukraine to help the country obtain more advanced weapons and air defense systems to fend off Russian attacks, according to senior U.S. officials.
"We intend to obligate more than $713 million in foreign military financing," a senior State official said. "This includes funding for Ukraine and 15 other allies and partner nations in central and eastern Europe, in the Balkans. ... And it will provide support for capabilities Ukraine needs, especially for the fight in the Donbas."
With the new assistance in foreign military financing, the U.S. would have committed about $3.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia's invasion began, and more than $4.3 billion since the start of the Biden administration.
Blinken announced Monday that U.S. diplomats will start returning to Ukraine this week, with the first traveling to the western city of Lviv and then eventually to Kyiv, a process he said could take several weeks.
U.S. President Joe Biden also formally nominated Bridget Brink, currently U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Several European Union and NATO member countries are sending their diplomats back to Kyiv, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The British government announced Friday that it would shortly reopen its embassy in Kyiv.
The return of foreign diplomats is seen as a sign of some semblance of safety in Ukraine after almost two months of Russia's shelling and bombing.
In other developments Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to support Turkey's diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine. Guterres travels on Tuesday to Moscow to meet with Putin in a renewed bid to try to get him to agree to a pause or end his campaign in Ukraine and will travel to Kyiv on Thursday to meet with Zelenskyy.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
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