US urges allies to supply more air defense systems to Ukraine

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday called on allies to supply more air-defense systems and ammunition to Ukraine, to back the country’s counteroffensive against Russia.

“Air defense will continue to be Ukraine’s greatest need to protect the skies, its civilians, and its cities,” he told reporters at the end of a high-level meeting of NATO allies and partners at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“In today’s meeting, I urged allies and partners to dig deep, and donate whatever air defense munitions they can, as Ukraine heads into another winter of war,” he said.

Around 50 defense ministers and senior officials attended the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, including new Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.

Austin noted that the US and allies have so far committed more than $76 billion in defense aid to Ukraine and underlined that their strong support will continue in the long term.

“As the US, along with our allies and partners from around the world, we will continue to support a free and sovereign Ukraine,” he stressed.

Austin thanked NATO allies Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway for their decision to donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

“We are beginning our collective training for Ukraine’s future F-16 pilots, and that’s even more evidence of our long-term commitment to Ukraine’s right to defend itself,” he said.

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