NATO members pledge “unprecedented” new arms shipments to Ukraine

The United Kingdom, Poland and the Baltic states pledged Thursday to carry out an “unprecedented” increase in arms shipments to Ukraine with the aim of facilitating a military offensive to recapture territory held by Russia.

The announcement took place ahead of a war summit at the US airbase in Ramstein, Germany, in which 50 US allies, including every member of NATO will participate, and where participants are expected to announce the provision of main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Containers and vehicles await transportation on commercial ships to Europe at the Port of Beaumont, Texas, in support of Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 February 18, 2020. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

Thursday’s statement declared, “We recognise that equipping Ukraine to push Russia out of its territory is as important as equipping them to defend what they already have. Together we will continue supporting Ukraine to move from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil.”

The statement continues, “Therefore, we commit to collectively pursuing delivery of an unprecedented set of donations including main battle tanks, heavy artillery, air defence, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine’s defence.”

The statement concludes, “The new level of required combat power is only achieved by combinations of main battle tank squadrons, beneath air and missile defence, operating alongside divisional artillery groups, and further deep precision fires enabling targeting of Russian logistics and command nodes in occupied territory.”

The military operation being described in the statement would be a massive combined-arms offensive reminiscent of the Second World War, financed, armed and effectively led by NATO.

The document notes that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania pledged to train thousands of Ukrainian troops. Poland promised to send two companies of Leopard 2 main battle tanks, about 25 in all, alongside 42 infantry fighting vehicles.

The United Kingdom promised to send a “squadron of Challenger 2 tanks, as well as “100,000 artillery rounds; hundreds more sophisticated missiles including GMLRS rockets, Starstreak air defence missiles, and medium range air defence missiles; 600 Brimstone anti-tank munitions.” The UK promised to train 20,000 Ukrainian armed forces personnel in 2023.

While it appeared that the details of supplying Leopard 2 battle tanks were still being worked out ahead of the meeting at Ramstein Air Force Base, Lithuania’s Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas told Reuters that a number of countries will announce they are sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine. “The total number of armoured vehicles pledged at Ramstein will go into hundreds,” he said.

Ahead of the meeting, the United States announced a $2.5 billion arms shipment to Ukraine, including 59 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers, 53 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles and 350 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the United States will “likely” announce that it is sending to Ukraine long-range missiles—the ground-launched small-diameter bomb—with a range of over 100 miles.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared, “Weapons are the way to peace.”

Addressing the same gathering, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared, “Crimea is our land, our territory. … It is our sea and our mountains. Give us your weapons—we will return what is ours.”

Responding to the escalation being carried out by the NATO powers, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, penned a brief statement on Telegram:

Tomorrow, at NATO’s Ramstein base, the great military leaders will discuss new tactics and strategies, as well as the supply of new heavy weapons and strike systems to Ukraine. And this was right after the forum in Davos, where it was repeated like a mantra: “To achieve peace, Russia must lose.”

And it never occurs to any of them to draw the following elementary conclusion from this: The loss of a nuclear power in a conventional war can provoke the outbreak of a nuclear war. Nuclear powers do not lose major conflicts on which their fate depends.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov endorsed Medvedev’s remarks, telling reporters, “Potentially, this is extremely dangerous. It will mean bringing the conflict to a whole new level which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and pan-European security.”

Russia possesses nearly 6,000 nuclear warheads. Despite efforts by the United States to develop its missile defense forces, it is widely believed that a full-scale nuclear war would kill more than half of the populations of both countries.

The rapid escalation of the war has been accompanied by a staggering mood of recklessness within the US political establishment.

In an editorial published Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal demanded strikes inside of Russian territory, declaring, “Why should a dictator who rolled over a foreign border be free to claim his territory as sacrosanct?”

It concluded, “The rejoinder is that Mr. Putin might unleash a nuclear weapon, but the past months have shown that he will make that decision based on his own calculations in any case.”