On April 21, 2023, NATO defense ministers will hold the 11th Rammstein meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. The first meeting was announced after the invaders had been driven out of the Kyiv region. It was held almost a year ago, on April 22, 2022, at a NATO base in Germany, and gave a start to the supply of heavy weaponry to Kyiv in its war with Russia. That was the moment when the West believed that Ukraine could win and witnessed the results of the Russian occupation.
Within a year and two months after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (the Ramstein group) has held 10 meetings. Their results help us trace the changes in the types of weapons provided to Kyiv. Thus, Ukraine had received virtually no heavy weapons before the Kyiv region was liberated, and the delivery of tanks and fighter jets was first approved at the beginning of 2023.
has traced the progress between the first and the tenth Ramstein meetings on the eve of the 11th meeting to be held on April 21, 2023.
How much did the military aid for Ukraine cost the allies?
As of March 2023, the NATO countries had provided $65 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine. The United States accounts for the largest percentage of this aid ($29.3 billion).
The EU has jointly provided seven military aid packages to Ukraine worth €3.5 billion and has recently approved the allocation of €1 billion to supply ammunition to Ukraine (the second billion is still subject to dispute).
Some countries also individually allocated money from their national budgets. For example, Germany delivered €2 billion in weapons to Ukraine in 2022 and approved a €2.2 billion aid package for 2023. In late March, it was announced that the German government would allocate another €12 billion to help arm Ukraine against the enemy in the coming years.
Poland gave Ukraine $2.2 billion in military aid, while the Czech Republic gave €2.3 billion. Norway approved a $7.3 billion military aid package for Ukraine for the coming five years.
Kyiv has been receiving weapons within these and other aid packages since last year.
What countries are in the Ramstein group?
The first Ramstein group meeting on April 22, 2022, was attended by representatives of 30 NATO countries as well as partners of the Alliance — Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, and Tunisia.
They were later joined by the defense ministers of Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Kosovo, Ecuador, Moldova, and Georgia. During the next year, the number of participants in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group increased to 50+.
Ramstein 1: Billions in weapons for Ukraine
The first meeting of the Ramstein group on April 2, 2022, was rather advisory and brought together around 40 NATO countries and allies. The goal was to catalog the military industries of Ukraine’s allies to understand how they can reinforce Kyiv’s defensive capacities after the war is over.
As a result of negotiations lasting seven hours, the allies agreed to help Ukraine not after the war but as soon as possible by allocating $5 billion.
It was at the first Ramstein meeting that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group was created and the format for further meetings concerning urgent help for Kyiv was established.
Ramstein 2: Harpoon missiles and artillery
The second meeting of the Ramstein group was held a month after the first one, on May 23, 2022, to flesh out weapons delivery plans. In particular, the supply of 155mm artillery to Ukraine was discussed (Italy, Greece, Norway, and Poland helped to provide it), as well as Mk-141 launchers for Harpoon missiles and the missiles themselves from Denmark.
A total of 20 countries announced their packages of military aid for Kyiv, which included:
- coastal defense systems;
- fighting vehicles;
- training for the Ukrainian military;
- battle tanks (still not Western-made).
The contact group expanded to include 44 countries.
Ramstein 3: HIMARS and Mi-17 helicopters
The third Ramstein group meeting was held in Brussels on June 15, 2022, amid the battle for Sievierodonetsk, a major Donbas city. The number of countries represented at the meeting rose to 50. The main result was the approval of the supply of M270 and M142 HIMARS long-range multiple launch rocket systems.
Kyiv was promised a total of 10 MLRS launchers by the end of June, with an ammunition supply of 100 rockets per launcher. In addition, the aid package included Mi-17 helicopters and rocket munitions provided by Slovakia, among other partners. Allies such as Canada, Poland, and the Netherlands pledged to provide additional artillery to Kyiv (it was planned to deliver 300 to 400 artillery systems).
The United States, for its part, disclosed the details of their next security assistance package worth $1 billion, which included:
- 155mm shells;
- rockets for HIMARS;
- vehicles for transporting and repairing equipment;
- Harpoon systems;
- radio stations;
- optical night vision devices.
Ramstein 4: Ammunition and anti-ship missiles
The fourth meeting of the Ramstein group was held online on July 20, 2022. Earlier that month, the United States announced another security assistance package worth $400 million, notably containing precision 155mm munitions.
As a result of the meeting, a number of countries agreed on the training of the Ukrainian military and the supply of additional MLRS launchers, rockets, and shells to Kyiv.
The United States and its allies also pledged to deliver up to 20 HIMARS launchers to Ukraine. Also on the list of equipment were anti-ship missiles.
Ramstein 5: HARM missiles, Hellfire missiles, and Gepards
The fifth meeting of the Ramstein group took place on September 8, 2022, this time at the Ramstein base in Germany. Then, NATO announced a winter aid package for Ukraine and pledged to help clear its territory of mines.
The new lists of defense aid included:
- AGM-88 HARM air-to-surface anti-radiation missiles;
- 105mm howitzers;
- Humvee armored vehicles;
- ammunition for HIMARS launchers;
- armored medical treatment vehicles;
- remote anti-armor mines;
- grenade launchers;
- small arms and ammunition;
- anti-armor systems;
- Hellfire missiles;
- Gepard anti-aircraft guns;
- Biber armored bridgelayers;
- winter field gear.
Ramstein 6: Air defense and winter gear
The sixth Ramstein group meeting took place in Brussels on October 12, 2022, just after the massive October 10 missile attack on Ukraine.
Apparently, this massive attack turned out to be the reason to provide Ukraine with advanced air defense systems, as the United States and Germany pledged to deliver them as soon as possible. The NASAMS air defense system, including missiles, and additional IRIS-T systems from Germany were agreed upon at that time. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom provided missiles for air defense systems.
At the sixth meeting, the Ramstein group also discussed the provision of additional rocket artillery, maneuverable tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry vehicles to Ukraine before the winter counteroffensive. Non-lethal aid included first-aid kits, dry rations, cameras for drones, optical devices, winter uniforms, and medical vehicles.
Ukraine was also promised new weapons, such as:
- PzH 2000 howitzers;
- MARS II MLRS;
- Zuzana-2 howitzers;
- LRU MLRS;
- Crotale air defense systems;
- CAESAR howitzers;
- TRF1 howitzers;
- Panzermörser M113 mortars.
Ramstein 7: More air defense and tanks
The Ramstein group held its seventh meeting on November 16, 2022, and agreed to provide Ukraine with advanced air defense systems, ammunition for MLRS, gun artillery, and additional winter gear.
At least seven countries announced that they intended to deliver air defense systems to Ukraine or had already delivered them. In addition, the United States, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic agreed to refurbish 90 T-72B tanks for Kyiv.
The assistance meetings approved at the meeting also included:
- artillery and ammunition for MARS II MLRS;
- winter field gear;
- medical equipment, power generators, and fuel for the Armed Forces;
- surveillance equipment;
- HAWK anti-aircraft missiles and launchers;
- more 155mm artillery shells.
Ramstein 8: Patriots and tanks from the United Kingdom
The eighth Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting was held at the Ramstein air base in Germany on January 20, 2023. It became a landmark because it gave the green light for the provision of Western-made tanks for Ukraine. Although Germany initially refused to approve the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine while allegedly waiting for the United States to make their decision on M1 Abrams tanks, after the meeting Berlin yielded to the allies.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom was the first to approve the delivery of Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine to unblock their provision and create the tank coalition for Kyiv. Other countries, such as Poland, also expressed their willingness to give Ukraine Leopard tanks.
Other major weapons provided to Ukraine as a result of the meeting were the Patriot air defense system, which had been requested for months, Avenger air defense systems, additional NASAMS missiles, and ammunition.
Kyiv also received more armored vehicles, including Bradleys, Strikers, Humvees, and MRAPs, as well as thousands of artillery shells.
The assistance package also included:
- Stinger MANPADs;
- CAESAR howitzers;
- CV90 infantry fighting vehicles;
- Archer howitzers.
Ramstein 9: ‘Yes’ to the tank coalition, but ‘No’ to fighter jets
The ninth meeting of the Ramstein group took place at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on February 14, 2023. It gave the final shape to the tank coalition to aid Ukraine. At that moment, eight countries pledged to provide Leopard tanks to Kyiv:
- the Netherlands.
The tank coalition included a total of 10 countries (in addition to the above, it was joined by the United States with Abrams tanks and the United Kingdom with Challenger-2 tanks). Later, Sweden also joined the coalition.
The allies also promised Kyiv more air defense systems, surface-to-air missiles, MANPADs, howitzers, artillery shells, and ammunition for Gepards, as well as the expansion of training for the Ukrainian military.
The possible future creation of a "warplane coalition" for Ukraine was also discussed, but nobody was willing to provide Kyiv with advanced fighter jets such as the F-16.
In addition, Ukraine was promised more T-72 tanks from the Czech Republic and the United States and special purpose tanks from Norway.
Ramstein 10: Ammunition and MiGs
The Ramstein group held its 10th meeting on March 15, 2023. One of the key issues on the agenda was how to supply Ukraine with ammunition, which is critically lacking on the battlefield.
The issue of fighter jets for Kyiv wasn’t listed as urgent, although countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom agreed to train Ukrainian pilots to fly them. France is also considering such training.
However, although Ukraine failed to unblock the provision of modern fighters, Poland and Slovakia agreed to deliver MiG-29 aircraft to Kyiv (10 from Poland and 13 from Slovakia, of which 17 had already arrived in Ukraine as of April 20).
According to the results of the 10th meeting of the Ramstein group, it was announced that the tank coalition was collecting more than 150 Leopard tanks for Ukraine. In addition, air defense systems continued to be sent to Kyiv, including SAMP/T-Mamba from Italy and France, Patriots from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands, and NASAMS and IRIS-T from Canada and Germany.
In total, Kyiv needs approximately 300 tanks and 250,000 to 480,000 rounds of ammunition per month for a counteroffensive. Based on the 10th Ramstein meeting, the EU agreed to purchase 1 million rounds of ammunition for Ukraine, and tanks continue to arrive in Kyiv.
During the year of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine's allies gradually unblocked different types of weapons for Kyiv — from heavy weapons as such and modern air defense systems to Western tanks and the first fighter jets, so far Soviet-made.
This story is somewhat reminiscent of unlocking levels in a computer game, but the grim reality is that delaying certain types of weapons results in greater destruction and more casualties.
Of course, Ukrainian authorities also share responsibility since a large amount of weapons were sold in previous years and the government wasn’t ready for a full-scale invasion. Today, however, joint efforts are needed to stop the terrorist state, which is ready to attack a number of other countries, in particular those from NATO, if not stopped in Ukraine.