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Official Says NATO Discussions to Focus on Ukraine Support

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is traveling to Europe this week to attend the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and the NATO defense ministerial meetings.

Discussions will focus on ways to most effectively support Ukraine now, as well as in the future, said a senior Defense Department official.

An airman directs supply vehicle.
Direction Duty
Air Force Senior Airman Cameron Manson, 436th Aerial Port Squadron ramp operation specialist, marshals a K-loader of cargo during a Ukraine security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Feb. 3, 2023.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Faith Barron
VIRIN: 230203-F-MO780-1150

Part of the discussion will be interoperability, as well as modernization and capability of ally and partner nations' military-industrial complexes, the official said. 

Current focus for Ukraine is on air defense, anti-armor systems and munitions, the official said, as well as short- and long-range artillery. 

These systems are needed as Ukrainian forces plan their combined-arms advances through well-defended Russian positions which have been seeded with such things as mines and anti-tank traps, the official said. 

Also important to Ukraine's fighting capability are spare parts and instructions on field maintenance and repair, the official said.

Additionally, the meetings will focus on future capabilities needed by Ukraine forces such as fighter pilot training, the official said. 

To date, the U.S. has committed about $40 billion in Ukraine defense assistance and allies and partners have committed $27 billion, the official said, noting that there are 53 allies and partners providing defense assistance to Ukraine.

Tanks are lined up on a road.
Training Time
U.S. M1A1 Abrams tanks needed for training the armed forces of Ukraine await transport to training areas at Grafenwoehr, Germany, May 14, 2023.
Photo By: U.S. Army Spc. Christian Carrillo
VIRIN: 230514-A-MC970-1004

Of note, the U.S., as a percentage of its gross domestic product, is 13th among ally and partner nations' Ukraine support, according to the official. 

Most counter-unmanned aerial systems, 155 mm artillery rounds, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being provided not by the U.S., but by allies and partners, the official said.

As well, allies have trained three times the number of Ukrainian fighters as has the U.S., the official added. 

Separately, the official said, the U.S. will urge membership of Sweden into NATO.

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