About 20 countries are sending new security assistance packages for Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said after concluding the second meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
“Many countries are donating critically needed artillery ammunition, coastal defense systems, tanks and other armored vehicles. Others came forward with new commitments for training Ukraine's forces and sustaining its military systems,” Austin told reporters at the Pentagon Monday.
Denmark said it would provide Ukrainian forces with a harpoon launcher and missiles, while the Czech Republic donated attack helicopters, tanks and rocket systems.
Monday’s meeting included 47 nations which participated virtually, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, the top U.S. military officer. Austria, Colombia and Ireland were among the new participants.
The next Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting will be held on June 15 in Brussels.
“Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they stretch far beyond Europe," Austin said
U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must pay a dear price for his barbarism in Ukraine.”
Speaking during a visit to Japan, Biden cited the importance of sending a message with long-term sanctions penalties for Russia.
“If, in fact, after all he’s done there’s a rapprochement between the Ukrainians and Russia, and the sanctions are not continued to be sustained in many ways, then what signal does that send to China about attempting to take Taiwan by force?” Biden said.
He said if such sanctions had been in place three months ago, the result would have been “tens of thousands of lives saved.”
Zelenskyy told the conference that the world is facing a turning point.
“This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” Zelenskyy said.
Hours earlier, Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine’s lead negotiator with Russia and a Zelenskyy adviser, highlighted the issue of Europe’s imports of Russian oil, saying those purchases amount to about $1 billion every day.
“Russia continues to kill children, rape women and destroy cities,” Podolyak tweeted. “Ukraine continues to defend European borders and democratic civilization. Draw conclusions.”
European Union leaders have proposed a ban on Russian oil, but heavy reliance by several member countries has so far blocked those efforts.
Russia’s military is focusing its efforts on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, which includes the Luhansk and Donetsk areas, and in parts of southern Ukraine.
Serhii Haidai, governor of Luhansk, accused Russian forces in the main city of Sievierodonetsk of “intentionally trying to destroy the city” and “engaging in a scorched-earth approach.”
A Ukrainian court on Monday sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison for killing a Ukrainian civilian in the northeastern village of Sumy.
The 21-year-old soldier pleaded guilty, telling the court he acted after an officer ordered to him to shoot the man.
Russia has denied targeting civilians. A Kremlin spokesman said Monday ahead of the verdict that Russia was concerned about the trial and did not have “the capacity to protect his interests in person.”
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.