The October 11, 2023, meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (Ramstein Group) was the second one for Rustem Umierov in his capacity as defense minister.
While the agenda of the previous meeting for Lloyd J. Austin III, the United States Secretary of Defense, was long-term support for Ukraine and air defense, the priority for the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Charles Brown, Jr. (Mark Milley’s successor), was to reassure the European allies and pledge continued support for Ukraine.
All NATO members endorsing Ukraine’s accession and the U.S. reassuring its allies
According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, all the Alliance members have agreed that Ukraine has to become a NATO member. However, he provided no details as to the timing and conditions. As we presumed earlier, this may happen after the war.
Jens Stoltenberg also outlined the main focuses for the Alliance:
- "raising the stakes" by providing more weapons to Ukraine, namely air defense systems, artillery, and ammunition;
- activation and expansion of manufacturing capacities;
- declarations of same-level cooperation within the Ukraine-NATO Council: "Your security is our security, and your values are our values."
The support for Ukraine from the U.S. won’t be affected by its attention to Israel
A few officials reiterated the statements made by the White House on unwavering support for Ukraine following the disturbances in the House of Representatives and the outbreak of a war between Palestine and Israel.
"We firmly reject the notion that the United States of America cannot at once support the freedom-loving people of Ukraine and support the state of Israel," said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at a briefing on October 10.
"Absolutely, we can do both, and we will do both," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on October 11. "We’re going to do what’s necessary to help our allies and partners, and we’re going to also do what’s necessary to make sure that we maintain the capability to protect our interests and defend our country."
Meanwhile, the primary task for the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was to reassure the partners, as U.S. domestic policy raises obvious concerns in Europe.
What Ukraine received from the allies
The United States: $200 million in ammunition for air defense systems, artillery and MLRS ammunition, air-based weapons, and anti-armor systems.
The United Kingdom: €115 million in MSI-DS Terrahawk Paladin anti-aircraft systems capable of detecting and destroying UAVs, funding for mine action, and equipment maintenance.
Denmark announced the delivery of F-16 fighter jets in the spring of 2024.
Finland: a €95-million-worth assistance package, non-disclosed for security reasons.
Canada: $25 million in winter gear and preparation for the winter campaign.
- Volodymyr Zelenskyi specifically mentioned air defense systems from Belgium but provided no further details.
- The country will also train pilots on F-16 fighter jets and mission planners. Two Belgian companies, Sabena Engineering and Patria Bec, will provide substantial assistance to the F-16 fleet. In 2025, Belgium will begin to provide F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine.
- Belgium is the first country to create a €1.7-billion Ukraine assistance fund from taxes accrued on frozen Russian assets in the country.
Norway: $18.5 million for demining.
Spain will provide launchers for Hawk surface-to-air missile systems, 155-mm and 105-mm artillery shells, winter gear for the military, and generators. The country will also allocate €1.5 million for humanitarian demining.
Germany: €1 billion — one Patriot system and two IRIS-T systems, 10 Leopard A1 tanks, and three Gepard anti-aircraft guns.
Lithuania will buy 2 NASAMS surface-to-air systems, 155-mm artillery shells, army camp beds, and winter gear.
Why the president attended the meeting in person
"They know the priorities, and they work on them. We discussed the extremely tense situation in Israel and its possible impact. The partners reassure us that Ukraine will get help anyway. We trust our partners," said the president yesterday.
But why then did Volodymyr Zelenskyi attend the Ramstein meeting personally? His aim was probably to remind all the participants about himself and Ukraine.
A new war emerged in the world and quickly flooded the front pages of global media outlets, replacing "outmoded" Ukraine, where the frontline has stalled. So, it’s quite reasonable for the president to put himself back on the agenda by attending the negotiations himself.
There isn’t any likely threat to the support for Ukraine so far. Despite the pretensions of Russian propaganda, the West hasn’t tired of Ukraine; however, Volodymyr Zelenskyi decided to put his finger on the pulse of Western support after the outbreak of the Israeli-Palestinian war.