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19 Mar, 2024 19:19

Ukraine’s survival in danger – Pentagon

Lloyd Austin has made a grim prediction about Kiev’s battlefield prospects
Ukraine’s survival in danger – Pentagon

Ukraine’s very survival could be at stake unless the West sends more military aid, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday. 

The head of the Pentagon was in Germany for a meeting of the so-called Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, in his first overseas trip since his hospitalization in January. 

“Today, Ukraine’s survival is in danger and America’s security is at risk,” Austin said at a press conference after the meeting. 

Keeping the weapons, equipment and ammunition flowing is “a matter of survival and sovereignty for Ukraine” and “a matter of honor and security for America,” he added.

He did not say how the US intends to support Ukraine without additional funding. The bill that would provide over $60 billion in assistance to Kiev is still stuck in the US House of Representatives.

US “inaction” has already resulted in Ukraine losing ground on the battlefield, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Tuesday’s press briefing. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has been trying to pressure the Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to approve the Ukraine funding for months, so far without success.

After the Ramstein meeting, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced a package of  weapons and ammunition for Kiev worth €500 million ($543 million).

Washington had used up almost all the congressionally approved funding for Kiev. The Pentagon has asked Congress for at least $6.5 billion to replenish its own depleted stockpiles. On Friday, the White House announced it had managed to put together a package of ammunition worth $300 million from various “savings” at the Pentagon, but warned that this would only support Ukraine for a couple of weeks. It was the first batch of US funding since the start of 2024.

Meanwhile, the US has urged Ukraine to expand its mobilization to younger men in order to fill up the badly depleted ranks of frontline brigades.

Ukrainian forces lost the key Donbass fortress of Avdeevka last month, pulling back in disorder before the advancing Russian forces, and have been taking heavy casualties in open battle ever since. The battle has prompted French military analysts to conclude that Kiev can’t possibly win on the battlefield, according to classified reports leaked to the outlet Marianne earlier this month.