NATO’s annual summit in Lithuania kicked off with major new pledges of military support, with new missile systems and tanks heading east from Germany and France.
While Ukraine’s leadership may have expressed disappointment that it is not to join the alliance at this annual conference of the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), it can take heart in two member states timing the announcement of new weapons packages for the start of proceedings.
Germany announced a nwew €700 million military aid package Tuesday morning which covered a series of new transfers of military equipment. Perhaps most significant was the donation of two Patriot missile batteries, the advanced Raytheon-made air defence system which has been instrumental in protecting Ukrainian cities from air raids.
The first Patriot missile batteries arrived in Ukraine earlier this year — and not a moment too soon, according to allegedly leaked military intelligence — but the systems are expensive and rare, leading the country to say it needs “much more” from the West.
Also heading east from Berlin are 40 more Cold War-era Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) to meet the 60-odd already pledged, 25 more first-generation Leopard 1 main battle tanks, and five tank recovery vehicles. Supporting operations will be a delivery of 20,000 more artillery rounds, and 5,000 smoke canister rounds.
Meanwhile, France announced a new donation this morning of cruise missiles, with the first of the batch arriving in Ukraine as President Emmanuel Macron revealed the donation at the NATO meeting this morning. The weapon provided is the SCALP missile (Système de croisière conventionnel autonome à longue portée, Long Range Autonomous Cruise Missile), which Macros said in his remarks would give Ukraine a “deep strike” capability.
He said of the weapons: “I think today what is important for us is to send a message of support to Ukraine, of NATO unity”. The SCALP is the French name for the MBDA-made Anglo-French cruise missile project, known as Storm Shadow in the United Kingdom. The UK provided the first of these to Ukraine in May, and just this morning it was claimed a senior Russian general was killed by a Storm Shadow strike in Berdiansk, on the coast of the sea of Azov, deep in Russian-occupied Ukraine.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed the kill, saying Russian media had confirmed the death of the deputy commander of the Southern Military District Lieutenant General Oleg Tsokov, and that he was killed at a hotel which Ukraine says was being used as a military command centre. Ukraine cites a report that claimed: “Locals report that there is almost nothing left of the hotel. Now, fast and heavy equipment is working on the site, dismantling the debris. The territory is surrounded. They don’t let anyone through.”