International defence chiefs to discuss coordination of military aid for Ukraine, says U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin​

A group of international defence chiefs convened by U.S. Defense Secretary to coordinate military aid for Ukraine is likely to expand when it meets for the second time on Monday, has reported.

The Ukraine Contact Group, which included 40 member countries at the inaugural gathering at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on April 26th, has since attracted more interest. U.S. defence officials declined to give a tally as the responses were still rolling in. The meeting will be held by video teleconference.

There are some countries that have shown an interest in participating that weren’t in the first meeting. There’s not a cap on it, and we would love to have as many countries as possible. In its first iteration, you had countries from the Middle East, you had countries from the Indo-Pacific, it wasn’t just Europe, and it certainly wasn’t just NATO. There was a true global community there of countries that were interested in what’s going on in Ukraine.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, co-organiser of the push, is expected to make an opening statement along with Austin and a Ukrainian delegate, according to a British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. As of Friday, 18 countries were preparing announcements on providing new kit, the official said.

The group’s purpose is to address Ukraine’s near- and long-term needs, Austin has said. High on the agenda Monday will be Kyiv’s immediate requirements, as Ukrainian forces prepare for grinding combat in the country’s east.

“It’s an important new way for nations of goodwill to intensify their efforts to help Ukraine better defend itself, both for today’s urgent needs and for the long haul,” Austin said in May 11th congressional testimony. “Our most urgent goal continues to be sending the Ukrainians the capabilities they need most right now, as the war has shifted to the Donbass and to the south. The coming weeks will be critical.”

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