WASHINGTON — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to be hampered by consistent military assistance to Ukraine from allies in Europe and elsewhere, U.S. military leaders said on Monday after a meeting with allies who made new pledges of weaponry as the war in Eastern Europe is on the cusp of entering its fourth month.
“We remain committed, resolved and united in our assistance to Ukraine,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said at a Pentagon briefing after a second meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, a consortium that now includes nearly 50 nations, most of them in Europe, committed to defending Ukraine against the invasion that the Kremlin launched in late February.
“Russia’s unprovoked and cruel invasion has galvanized countries from around the world,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “Everyone here understands the stakes of this war. And they stretch far beyond Europe.”
The defense secretary said that Monday saw 20 nations make “new security assistance packages” that included tanks, training commitments and ammunition. He praised Denmark for sending a Harpoon anti-ship missile launcher and the Czech Republic for sending helicopters and tanks.
“It’s been a good day,” Austin said. “And an encouraging one.”
Western aid, including billions of dollars in military equipment from the United States, has helped Ukraine repel an invasion that the Kremlin had initially planned to conclude within three days. Instead, a poorly led and ill-prepared Russian army has found itself in a grueling war against a determined adversary.
“We’ve seen, really, a very slow and unsuccessful pace on the battlefield,” Austin said of the Russian efforts. At another point in the briefing, he described the fighting as “being shaped by artillery in this phase,” in an apparent sign that the Russian offensive in Donbas — seen as an attempt to compensate for shortfalls in the initial attack — had been largely drained of momentum.
Independent analysts offered a similarly skeptical assessment of the latest Russian military efforts, with the Institute for the Study of War on Sunday describing Russian gains as “minimal,” even though a new Russian offensive in Ukraine’s eastern sector is expected.