Western nations pledge more military support for Ukraine
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Western countries agreed Thursday to continue long-term funding to help Ukraine’s military keep fighting nearly 5½ months after Russia invaded its neighbor, saying 1.5 billion euros ($1.5 billion) has been pledged so far and more is coming.
The money is for enhancing armaments production, including artillery and ammunition; developing and strengthening the training of Ukrainian soldiers and assisting Ukraine’s efforts to demine areas.
“All the countries that came to Copenhagen came with the intention of supporting Ukraine,” Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov said at the end of the one-day meeting of 26 nations and the European Union.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the meeting proved that Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s ambition (of the West losing its willingness to support Ukraine) has failed.”
“We are still determined,” Wallace said.
The 1.5 billion euros included donations by the U.K., Denmark and Norway but “it will grow,” Bødskov said, adding “some of the countries need to go back home and get the support of their parliaments.”
Bødskov said that “money alone will not do the trick, as you say, we need increased productions.”
He thanksed Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic for signaling a “willingness to expand production of artillery systems, ammunitions and other equipment.”
At the conference, Norway said it would help train Ukrainian troops in Britain. Sweden and Finland earlier said they would do the same. Iceland will assist demining efforts in Ukraine “by training trainers,” its foreign minister said.
In a live feed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Western nations to provide more money, saying “the sooner we stop Russia, the sooner we can feel safe.”
“We need armaments, munitions for our defense,” he said.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who attended the conference, declined to give details on what weapons his country will get.
The conference, co-hosted by Denmark, Britain and Ukraine, followed an April meeting at a U.S. air base in Germany that established the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which coordinates international military support for Ukraine.
Britain on Thursday announced that it will send more multiple launch rocket systems and guided missiles to Ukraine to help it resist Russia’s invasion. The new weapons, whose number wasn’t specified, come on top of several rocket-launch systems it gave Ukraine earlier this year. Ukrainian troops have been trained in Britain to use them.
“Our continued support sends a very clear message, Britain and the international community remain opposed to this illegal war and will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, providing defensive military aid to Ukraine to help them defend against Putin’s invasion,” Wallace, the defense chief, said.
Before the conference, Denmark said it would give Ukraine an extra 820 million kroner ($113 million), which would bring Denmark’s total contribution to more than 3 billion kroner ($413 million). Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called it “a huge donation.”
Part of the money will pay for 130 Danish troops to help train Ukrainian forces in Britain.
Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said there was still unwavering Western support for Ukraine.
“It is decisive for Ukraine to be able to defend itself against the Russian attack,” Arild Gram said.
The Kyiv School of Economics released a report Wednesday assessing the cost of war damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure at more than $110 billion. The report said 304 bridges and more than 900 health care facilities were either destroyed or damaged.
___ Jill Lawless in London, and James Brooks in Copenhagen, contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine