NATO 'keen to show they're ready for the real thing' says Swain
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The foreign ministers of NATO countries are meeting in Berlin on Saturday to discuss the war in Ukraine. The two-day gathering will also feature the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland, which are set to join the military alliance. Germany will host top diplomats from the Group of Seven wealthy nations this weekend to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other issues.
Representatives from Ukraine and Moldova — which fears it will be invaded by Russia next — will also be there.
Initially, the 30 NATO countries refused to send heavy defensive weapons to Ukraine, and smaller, less threatening offensive items like ammunition and other military aid.
But the bloc has now agreed to send heavy military hardware such as tanks, helicopters, and other weaponry — a clear break with the previously defensive approach.
The US, NATO’s largest defence spender, has delivered some of the most devastating weapons for Ukraine to use against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army.
Last month, Washington announced that it would send an additional $800million (£647million) worth of military hardware to Ukraine.
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This includes 11 MI-17 helicopters, 200 M113 armoured personnel carriers, 100 Humvees, 300 Switchblade “kamikaze” drones, heavy howitzers and thousands of shells.
The UK, NATO’s second largest defence spender, has also provided more than 4,200 anti-tank weapons known as NLAWs (next generation light anti-tank weapons) to Ukraine.
These relatively light weapons systems have played a critical role in helping Ukrainian soldiers destroy Russia’s tanks.
Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies, King’s College London, praised the UK’s response to Russia’s war.
He said: “We can criticise British foreign policy at times, but [this time] we actually led.
“There has been very close cooperation with the Ukrainians for a while, so there was a good idea of what they’d need, but it also had a good anti-tank weapon to send them.
“It was the first to send substantial equipment before war began, and it has made a difference.”
The Government has also just confirmed a further £1.3billion military package for Ukraine.
The military aid includes anti-battery radar systems to target Russian artillery, as well as GPS jamming equipment and night-vision devices.
Besides the UK and US, a string of other NATO nations have provided military aid for Ukraine such as Poland which has sent more than 200 Soviet-style T-72 tanks to Ukraine, the country’s Prime Minister confirmed last month.
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Before the invasion, parts of Russia’s military might far outnumbered that of the US and other NATO countries.
Its tanks alone totalled more than 12,000 compared to the 6,000 in the US, according to Globalfirepower.com.
However, its main T-72 tank – the same model sent by Poland to Ukraine – is not as modern as its US Abrams counterpart.
During the war, as NATO has increasingly bolstered Ukraine with heavy weaponry, there have also been warnings that Russia is now running short of military supplies.
Earlier this week, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace claimed that Russia increasingly lacks precision weapons.
He told a press conference: “He [Vladimir Putin] is running out of his precision stock fairly quickly.
“You know, that’s the lesson for us all. I mean, we mustn’t forget that they are showing us lessons, sadly at the expense of what’s happening in Ukraine.
“We all have highly complex weapons that, funny enough, don’t take a couple of days to replace, it can take months.”
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