US to hold military talks on Ukraine in Germany

The United States plans to welcome dozens of countries to Germany on Tuesday for talks focused on arming Ukraine. The plans come after senior US diplomats and defense officials traveled to Kyiv to pledge more US military assistance to the country.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is holding talks at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Tuesday to coordinate the mounting of Western security assistance to Ukraine.

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him in Germany on Monday that Ukraine needed “continuous support to succeed on the battlefield. And that’s really what this conference is about.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov are expected to attend.

The meeting follows a trip by Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Kyiv, where they pledged to increase military assistance to Ukraine and continue to rally other nations to contribute. .

Blinken told reporters in Poland after returning from Kyiv that while Russia was trying to “brutalize” parts of Ukraine, “the Ukrainians are strong, and they are doing it with the support that we have coordinated from all over the world. “.

“In terms of Russia’s war goals, Russia has already failed,” Blinken said, “and Ukraine has already succeeded because the main goal that (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin brought to this , in his own words, was to completely subsume Ukraine into Russia, to take away its sovereignty and independence, and that hasn’t happened and clearly won’t happen.”

Yet Russia launched new attacks on Monday, hitting rail and oil installations far from the front line of its eastern offensive.

The head of Ukraine’s state-run railways said five rail 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 region of Vynnytsia, Ukrainian authorities said.

In total, the Russian Defense Ministry said, its warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian targets overnight. Meanwhile, two fires have been reported at oil facilities in western Russia, not far from the Ukrainian border. But it’s unclear what caused the fires.

Blinken said he and Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials for about three hours to both demonstrate American support and hear from Zelenskyy what his country needed as the conflict progressed.

“We want to do everything we can to help Ukrainians end this in the best possible way as soon as possible,” Blinken said.

The train ride to kyiv for Sunday’s meeting between senior US officials and Zelensky took 11 hours each way, a senior US official said. The train mainly crossed the countryside. The blinds were mostly down, but US officials were able to peek in from time to time, 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 sanctions against Russia, during the meeting.

“I think (Zelenskyy looked) extraordinarily well, remarkably well,” the official said.

Zelenskyy’s office said Monday the talks focused on security guarantees as well as defense and financial aid to Ukraine. A statement says that the Ukrainian side is placing special emphasis on increasing sanctions against Russia. “We understand what the next steps on this path should be. And we count on the support of our partners,” Zelenskyy said.

The United States is providing additional foreign military funding to Ukraine to help the country obtain more advanced weapons and air defense systems to repel Russian attacks, according to senior US officials.

“We intend to commit more than $713 million in foreign military funding,” a senior state official said. “This includes funding for Ukraine and 15 other allies and partner countries in Central and Eastern Europe, in the Balkans. … And this will provide support for the capabilities that Ukraine needs, particularly for combat in the Donbass.”

With the new foreign military funding assistance, the United States would have committed about $3.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, and more than $4.3 billion since the beginning of the Biden administration.

Blinken announced on Monday that US diplomats would begin returning to Ukraine this week, with the first going to the western city of Lviv and then eventually to Kyiv, a process he said could take several weeks.

US President Joe Biden has also officially appointed Bridget Brink, currently US Ambassador to Slovakia, as US Ambassador to Ukraine.

Several member countries of the European Union and NATO send their diplomats back to kyiv, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia. The British government announced on Friday that it would soon reopen its embassy in Kyiv.

The return of foreign diplomats is seen as a sign of a semblance of security in Ukraine after nearly two months of Russian shelling and shelling.

In other developments on Monday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to support Turkey’s diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine. António Guterres travels to Moscow on Tuesday to meet Putin in a fresh bid to convince him to suspend or end his campaign in Ukraine and will travel to Kyiv on Thursday to meet Zelensky.

Some information for this story comes from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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