NATO bids to ramp up anti-aircraft missile deliveries to Ukraine after top US spies warned Putin’s forces could prepare large-scale airstrikes
NATO wants to ramp up supplies of anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine after US officials warned Russia could launch a large-scale airstrike as part of a spring offensive.
Senior US sources said the Ukrainian military has inflicted such losses on Moscow’s “demoralized” land forces that they could opt for air strikes.
A new offensive is likely to target Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, and eastern Donbas.
A US official said there was “a lot of action on the border, a lot of preparations” from Russian bombers, fighter jets and helicopter gunships. “If the Ukrainians are to survive, they must have as much air defense capability and as much ammunition as possible,” they added.
France and Italy recently pledged to send Mamba air defense systems, while the US, Germany and the Netherlands pledged to provide more Patriot units to protect Ukrainian cities and towns.
Ahead of the two-day meeting, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg had warned of a “logistics race” to provide Kiev’s armed forces with the equipment they need to repel attacks.
NATO wants to ramp up supplies of anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine after US officials warned Russia could launch a large-scale airstrike as part of a spring offensive. Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers during an NLAW anti-aircraft missile exercise
Senior US sources said the Ukrainian army had inflicted such losses on Moscow’s “demoralized” land forces that they could opt for aerial attacks. Pictured: UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace
A US official said there was “a lot of action on the border, a lot of preparations” from Russian bombers, fighter jets and helicopter gunships. Pictured: Russian Su-35 fighter jet hit by Ukrainian forces
But talks at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels fell short of Ukrainian demands to supply much-needed Western fighter jets. The US and UK have ruled out such aircraft for now, but Britain has announced a training program for Ukrainian fighter pilots.
NATO strategists also worry that Ukraine is burning up munitions faster than its Western allies can produce and supply.
Ukraine fires 6,000 shells a day, while Russia uses some 20,000 rounds, equivalent to what European factories produce in a month.
Earlier yesterday, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the military should be trained to fight without always resorting to heavy gunfire.
He said: ‘[The Ukrainian military] uses huge amounts of ammunition to defend itself – in part that’s why we train them to fight in a western way.
“The Russian or Soviet way of fighting is very ammunition-heavy, massive artillery barrages, and that’s never how we organized to fight in the West.”
Mr Wallace again ruled out sending fighter jets to Kiev for now, but he insisted Britain could provide more direct support through weapons such as anti-aircraft missiles.
“I think we can help Ukraine sooner by providing the effects they need on the battlefield rather than the platform-specific request,” Wallace told Sky News.
His American counterpart Lloyd Austin said the Ukrainians could make serious gains if they had the right equipment.
“I think they have a good chance of setting up the initiative. And be able to exploit that initiative in the future,” he said.