Germany and the US pledged on Wednesday to equip Ukraine with some of the advanced weapons it has long desired for shooting down aircraft and knocking out artillery as Russian forces closed in on capturing a key city in the east.
Germany said it would supply Ukraine with up-to-date anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems. At the same time, the US announced it would provide four sophisticated, medium-range rocket systems and ammunition.
The US is trying to help Ukraine fend off the Russians without triggering a wider war in Europe. The Pentagon said it received assurances that Ukraine will not fire the new rockets into Russian territory.
For its part, the Kremlin accused Washington of “pouring fuel on the fire.”
Western arms have been critical to Ukraine’s success in stymieing Russia’s much larger and better-equipped military, thwarting its effort to storm the capital and forcing Moscow to shift its focus to the industrial Donbas region in the east.
But as Russia bombards towns in its inching advance in the east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly pleaded for more and better weapons and accused the West of moving too slowly.
Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, hailed the new Western weapons.
“I’m sure that if we receive all the necessary weapons and strengthen the efficient sanctions regime, we will win,” he said.
The new arms could help Ukraine set up and hold new lines of defence in the east by hitting back at Russian artillery pieces that have been battering towns and cities and by limiting Russian airstrikes, said retired French General Dominique Trinquand, a former head of France’s military mission at the United Nations.
Military analysts say Russia hopes to overrun the Donbas before any weapons that might turn the tide arrive. The Pentagon said it would take at least three weeks to get the precision US weapons and trained troops onto the battlefield.