Ukraine’s long-standing pleas — and prayers — for advanced Western weapons are about to be answered as NATO has formally said it will help the eastern European country convert to modern military kit.
It was part of a series of historic decisions made over a two-day summit of leaders of the Western military alliance in Madrid.
“A strong independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said while briefing the media late Wednesday.
His remarks came after what was a blistering video address to alliance leaders by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, whose country has for more than a dozen years been trying to join NATO.
He asked them: Has Ukraine “not paid enough” to join the alliance? His remarks came on the same day as Finland and Sweden were put on the fast track to join the alliance.
“We will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO equipment, boost interoperability and strengthen its defence and security institutions,” said Stoltenberg.
Ukraine has lost tanks, armoured personnel carriers
CBC News has learned that NATO planners and U.S. officials are looking at how to switch the Ukrainians to modern battle tanks from the older Soviet-style T-72s and T-80s they’ve been fighting with.
Although the Ukrainians will not confirm the number, defence experts estimate a little less than half of Ukraine’s tank force has been lost in combat, along with two-thirds of their armoured personnel carriers.
Additionally, there have been reports that suggest the U.S. has purchased a modern National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System for Ukraine — similar to the one that already protects the U.S. capital.
It would boost Ukraine’s ability to protect its skies from Russian aircraft and cruise missiles.
The country is currently using older Soviet-built systems, such as the S-300 long-range missile batteries.
WATCH | Canada will increase the number of its troops in Latvia as NATO boosts its presence in Europe: