As is typically the case, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent trip abroad went unannounced for security reasons. That explains why some NATO defense ministers and other allies in Brussels were surprised when Zelenskyy personally attended the latest meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG), also known as the Ramstein group, named after the US airbase in Germany. At the summit, Zelenskyy again called for more weapons, ammunition and financial aid for Ukraine, which has been under attack by Russia since February 2022.
The UDCG includes all 31 NATO member states alongside 23 further nations in support of Ukraine such as Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Kenya and Cambodia. Although these 54 state representatives are meeting at NATO’s headquarters, the defense alliance emphasizes that UDCG is not a NATO body. UDCG is chaired by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Brussels-based diplomats say NATO is keen to avoid being perceived by Russia as a party to the war. Russia, however, has regarded the alliance as just this for a long time. Weapons deliveries to Ukraine are therefore always made by individual member states rather than NATO itself. The UDCG is convening for the 16th time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These meetings have led to the provision of modern battle tanks, heavy artillery, ammunition, training and cruise missiles to Ukraine, which will also receive modern fighter jets in the future.
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