Sources familiar with the Second Contact Group, which happened virtually today, have told reporters that the Contact Group has agreed to completely modernize the Ukrainian military in a long term project, meant to establish the former Soviet Bloc Country as a truly independent and formidable European military power. The Dutch Foreign Minister said as much when she announced that the group will work on this issue in the “long term”. U.S. Defense Secretary Austin also made the announcement that Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles will be supplied to Ukraine through Denmark, finally concluding the rumors that Norway and the U.S. were mulling sending the weapons bi-laterally to Ukraine. Germany has also announced that the shipment of 100 Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles will be scaled back and delayed. The German Defense Ministry said that 32 vehicles are available for use in Ukraine, but repairs must be made that will take six weeks.
The Contact Group will meet again on June 15th, says Secretary Austin.
In addition to these announcements, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs accounted that the United States will not currently send any additional ships into the Black Sea, to support Ukrainian grain exports, which are currently blockaded. He stressed that the port of Odessa is a “no-go” for commercial shipping. He also told press that more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Europe, up from the nearly 70,000 last fall. He also told reporters that 12 U.S. fighter squadrons are currently deployed to NATO’s eastern flank.
On April 26th, the United States Secretary of Defense etsbliahsed and held the first meeting of a Ukraine Contact Group comprised of more than 40 countries, NATO and non-NATO, to discuss how the international community can blunt the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The first meeting, Secretary Austin said ” will be a vehicle for nations of good will to intensify our efforts, coordinate our assistance, and focus on winning today’s fight [against Russian aggression] and the struggles to come.”
Organizers said over 40 countries were attending and a scan of the meeting room showed countries mainly from Europe but also beyond, including Israel, Australia, Kenya and Tunisia, with representatives from South Korea and Japan attending virtually. All EU and NATO members were among the participants. “We need weapons. Modern weapons. A large number of modern heavy weapons,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted after the talks. And that’s exactly what happened. Following the First Contact Meeting, Germany broke its status quo on not providing lethal aid to Ukraine and provided Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.