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Will Ukraine Get Planes Following Summits With Allies?

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On Tuesday, February 14, another meeting is scheduled in the Ramstein format, at which Ukraine’s allies will discuss with the Ukrainian military new supplies of weapons needed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to repel Russian aggression. This time, the meeting, the 9th in a row, will be held not at the Ramstein NATO military base of the same name in Germany, but in Brussels, at the headquarters of the Alliance. A summit of NATO defense ministers will also take place there on February 14 and 15. About what to expect from these two related events – in the RFI material.

The meeting of the Ramstein contact group, as usual, will be attended by representatives of about fifty countries of the world.

The day before, on the morning of February 13, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov expressed optimism when speaking about the expectations from the summit:

“I left for the next meeting in the Rammstein format. I have the honor for the ninth time to lead a joint team of representatives of the Ministry of Defense, intelligence, the General Staff and our diplomats, which will work intensively with partners in the coming days. The pace is extremely high.”

Main items on the agenda:

— protection of the Ukrainian sky, including through the involvement of an aviation platform,

– the development of a “tank coalition”,

– the formation of a margin of safety for ammunition,

– training programs for our soldiers,

– stability of support – logistics, maintenance, repairs, practical implementation of the “Military Schengen”.

“The day before I had a number of conversations with partners – their involvement and support give optimism. Everything will be Ukraine!” the minister wrote at the end.

As you can see, the first item on the agenda, voiced by Reznikov, are air defense and aviation issues.

On February 11, he reported on a conversation “with his great friend and friend of Ukraine,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “We discussed the current situation at the front, the urgent needs of the Ukrainian Defense Forces and priorities at the next meeting in the Ramstein format. (…) The United States is unwavering in its support for Ukraine,” the head of the Ukrainian defense department said, emphasizing that

“all this is possible thanks to trusting and transparent relations and common confidence in the victory of Ukraine over the army of murderers, marauders and rapists.”

“U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin spoke by phone with Ukrainian Defense Secretary Oleksiy Reznikov about the priorities of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group, (…) including air defense and artillery,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman General Patrick Ryder said on Feb. 9 that allied Rammstein efforts “will be focused on Ukraine’s urgent security needs, especially as the anniversary of Russia’s illegal invasion approaches . ” As UNN reported , Ryder added that an analysis of the progress made is expected, as well as “very substantive” discussions on what needs to be done to help Ukraine in the future.

At the same time, he noted that he has no official announcements on the issue of possible deliveries of American aircraft to Ukraine, but, according to him, the United States will continue close consultations with Ukrainians, other allies and partners in order to “determine urgent needs.”

Aleksey Reznikov, speaking of “general confidence”, did not specify that in order to maintain it, constant replenishment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the Allies is necessary – with new weapons and ammunition. This is understandable and so. President Zelensky also spoke about this during his European tour last week (London-Paris- Brussels ).

“Now we don’t have much time. And it’s not about today. It’s about the weeks and months we have ahead of us. So, it’s about the weapons we need. It is necessary to strengthen our common positions – Ukraine and all Europeans,” Zelensky said at a meeting with Macron and Scholz at the Elysee Palace.

During the voyage to Europe, the Ukrainian leader first of all insisted on the supply of combat aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it,” the President of Ukraine said , speaking to the British Parliament. On the same day, February 8, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that London would consider transferring fighter jets to Ukraine. At the same time, according to the British Minister of Defense Ben Wallace, the delivery of aircraft could “take months.”

On February 9, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that his country was ready to transfer fighter jets to Ukrainians, but would not be able to do so first of the NATO countries. Wherein

Polish President Andrzej Duda in a February 10 interview
Le Figaro said, in response to the question “Can the Russians still win the war?”: “Yes, they can, if Ukraine is not provided with urgent assistance.

They (the Russians – Approx. RFI) do not have a modern military infrastructure, but they have people! If we do not send military equipment to Ukraine in the coming weeks, Putin may win. He can win and we don’t know where he will stop.”

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov, on the air of the Ukrainian telethon, promised his compatriots: at the next meeting of Ramstein, “we will see a lot of interesting things.”

Danilov did not specify what weapons would be supplied. But he promised that it “would be a breakthrough in relations with Western partners.”

Perhaps we will talk about the supply of combat aircraft to Ukraine, the Ukrainian edition of  RFI notes .

At the same time, unnamed sources of the Spanish agency EUROPA PRESS “in allied countries” say that an early decision to provide fighter jets to Ukraine is “not considered”, and that this step is “reserved for a later phase of the war”, recalling that Russia currently practically does not use its own air force and that the provision of aircraft to Ukraine by NATO allies could lead to an “escalation of the conflict.”

However,

many military experts believe that the supply of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (which have already been announced) is unlikely to make much sense without the supply of aircraft – otherwise the tankers will be left without air cover, which will make them very vulnerable.

“Everything that is in the offensive“ on the ground ”is a target for enemy aircraft. Therefore, transferring heavy tanks and new infantry fighting vehicles without air cover for them is the same as flooding them in the Pacific Ocean. That is, it would not make sense to bring them here. Therefore, a triad (tank-BMP-aircraft/helicopter) is definitely needed, ”in particular, Ukrainian military expert Roman Svitan said in an interview with Glavred .

The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance at  a press conference on February 13 (it was devoted to a meeting of NATO defense ministers, which will also be held with the participation of the Ukrainian military leadership) said: the issue of supplying aircraft will be discussed, but it is not paramount.

Stoltenberg once again said that the countries of the Alliance will provide Ukraine “with what it needs to win and to achieve a just and lasting peace.” Almost all of Ukraine’s allies have been repeating similar words for many months now, and the question, as usual, is only the speed of this support and the volume of supplies.

“We are in a logistical race,” Stoltenberg said, stressing that “key assets such as ammunition, fuel and spare parts must be delivered to Ukraine before Russia can seize the initiative on the battlefield; speed saves lives.”

Stoltenberg did not rule out the possibility of providing fighter jets to Ukraine in the future, but said that any decision on the matter “will take time” and that the priority now should be to send ammunition and tanks (as well as fuel and spare parts) to stop the Russian offensive in the Donbass.

“My top priority is to ensure that allied commitments to supply weapons, infantry vehicles and tanks are met as soon as possible, because every day matters,” he said.

(“Before we talk about planes and tanks, let’s try to provide the best after-sales service for the equipment we have already delivered” in terms of ammunition and maintenance, a French government source told AFP).

Stoltenberg, however, stressed that even providing Ukraine with aircraft (probably “not now”) would not mean that NATO is taking part in the conflict.

At the same time, he noted that the allies of Ukraine “have a problem” with the supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with a sufficient amount of ammunition.

(In July, for example, Russian troops fired up to 50,000 rounds per day, Ukrainians up to 6,000, according to a French military source cited by AFP. Ukrainian consumption skyrocketed after a counter-offensive in late August. And the UAF would need massive firepower to counter Russian offensive, which is expected in the coming weeks, also emphasizes France-Presse).

“Yes, we have a problem, yes, this is a challenge,” Stoltenberg admitted, emphasizing that the Alliance has begun to act, mentioning both the increase in the capacities of the military-industrial complex in the short term, for example, due to work on weekends, and in the medium term: investments in production facilities.

Jens Stoltenberg clarified the schedule for Tuesday, February 14: the topic of investment in production capacity and the issue of providing aircraft to Ukraine will first be discussed at the Ramstein meeting, and then will be the focus of the meeting of the Alliance’s defense ministers.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov will take part in both meetings and will tell the allies about the needs of the Ukrainian troops.

On the evening before the Rammstein 9 summit, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny held telephone conversations with Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the NATO Allied Forces in Europe and Commander of the US Forces in Europe Christopher Cavoli.

“We discussed the delivery of international military assistance to Ukraine and the training of our units on the territory of partner countries. I shared my assessments of the operational situation on the front of the Russian-Ukrainian war and plans for further actions,” Zaluzhny said via the Telegram channel.

Zaluzhny, like Reznikov earlier, thanked his American colleague “for a deep understanding of the situation and significant efforts to bring our Victory closer,” “the vision of which he shared” with his interlocutor.

“The victory of Ukraine will mean not only the liberation of its territories, but also the creation of such conditions and such Armed Forces that will not give the Russians the opportunity to attack our state ever in the future,” Valery Zaluzhny emphasized.

We will learn some details about exactly how Rammstein-9 and the summit of NATO defense ministers will contribute to the approach of these times on February 14 and 15. And as usual, not everything will be open to the “general public”.

source: rfi

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