International military aid to Ukraine is accelerating, Pentagon says

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The Pentagon announced Monday that about 20 countries have pledged new security aid packages to Ukraine, including new anti-ship missiles, additional attack helicopters and tanks.

Forty-seven nations have now joined the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, organized by the Pentagon to help meet Kiev’s immediate and long-term needs as it attempts to repel the Russian military’s protracted invasion.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday singled out Denmark for providing Ukraine with a harpoon launcher and missiles to defend its coast and the Czechs for agreeing to send helicopters, tanks and missile systems. Other participating nations, he said, have donated artillery shells and armored vehicles or agreed to provide training and help Ukrainians maintain their military systems.

The group is scheduled to meet again on June 15 on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

Russia is looking to bounce back in Ukraine as chances of victory dwindle

In recent months, the United States has greatly expanded its presence in Europe, from 78,000 troops in the fall to 102,000 now, said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, who appeared alongside Austin.

There are more than 15,000 US sailors deployed on 24 surface battleships and four submarines in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas, a significant increase from the six surface battleships there last fall, he said. There are also 12 fighter squadrons and two combat aircraft brigades in the region.

President Biden ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Ukraine ahead of Russia’s invasion in late February. He has repeatedly said that the United States would not participate directly in the war, although US troops continue to train Ukrainian forces elsewhere in Europe.

Milley was addressing a report published Sunday by The Wall Street Journal that indicated the Pentagon was drafting plans to deploy special forces to defend the US embassy in Kyiv. The proposal, he said, still stands “at a relatively low level” in the Department of Defense and had not yet been briefed to senior officials.

“At the end of the day, reintroducing US forces to Ukraine would require a presidential decision, so we’re a long way from that,” Milley said.


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