NATO foreign ministers met in Berlin on Saturday to discuss the war in Ukraine. The two-day gathering also brought together the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland, which are about to join the military alliance. Germany has also hosted senior diplomats from wealthy Group of Seven countries to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other issues.
Representatives from Ukraine and Moldova – which fears it will then be invaded by Russia – were also present.
Initially, the 30 NATO countries refused to send heavy defensive weapons to Ukraine, as well as smaller, less threatening offensive items like ammunition and other military aid.
But the bloc has now agreed to send heavy military equipment such as tanks, helicopters and other weapons – a clean break from the previously defensive approach.
The United States, NATO’s biggest defense spender, has delivered some of the most devastating weapons to Ukraine for use against Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s army.
Last month, Washington announced it would send an additional $800m (£647m) worth of military hardware to Ukraine.
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This includes 11 MI-17 helicopters, 200 M113 armored personnel carriers, 100 Humvees, 300 Switchblade “kamikaze” drones, heavy howitzers and thousands of shells.
The UK, NATO’s second biggest defense spender, has also supplied more than 4,200 anti-tank weapons known as ANLAs (Next Generation Anti-Tank Light Weapons) to Ukraine.
These relatively light weapon systems played a vital role in helping Ukrainian soldiers destroy Russian tanks.
Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London, hailed the UK’s response to Russia’s war.
He said: “We can sometimes criticize British foreign policy, but [this time] we actually led.
Prior to the invasion, parts of the Russian military far outnumbered those of the United States and other NATO countries.
Its tanks alone totaled more than 12,000 compared to 6,000 in the United States, according to Globalfirepower.com.
However, its T-72 main tank – the same model sent by Poland to Ukraine – is not as modern as its American counterpart Abrams.
During the war, as NATO increasingly reinforced Ukraine with heavy weapons, there were also warnings that Russia was now short of military supplies.
Earlier this week, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace claimed that Russia was increasingly short of precision weapons.
He said at a press conference: “He [Vladimir Putin] depletes its stock of precision fairly quickly.
“You know, that’s the lesson for all of us. I mean, we must not forget that they give us lessons, unfortunately at the expense of what is happening in Ukraine.
“We all have very complex weapons that, funny enough, don’t take days to replace, it can take months.”