Ukraine’s survival in danger, Pentagon chief warns


RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday warned that Ukraine’s survival was in danger and sought to convince allies that the United States was committed to Kyiv, even as Washington has essentially run out of money to continue arming Ukrainian forces.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson has so far refused to call a vote on a bill that would provide $60 billion more for Ukraine and the White House has been scrambling to find ways to send assistance to Kyiv, which has been battling Russian forces for more than two years.

Austin is leading the monthly meeting known as the Ukraine defence contact group (UDCG), held at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, of about 50 allies that have been militarily supporting Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s survival is in danger,” Austin said in a press conference after the meeting.

“Our allies and partners continue to step up, the United States must also,” he added.

Austin, who is traveling for the first time this year since prostate cancer treatment, did not say how Washington would support Ukraine without additional funding.

Officials say the lack of funding available is already having an impact on the ground in Ukraine and Ukrainian forces are having to manage scarce resources.

“I think our allies are acutely aware of our funding situation and the Ukrainians more so than anyone because of the shortages that are resulting from us not being able to supply them,” a senior US defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Kyiv’s allies on Tuesday to supply more air defences, saying Russia had launched 130 missiles, more than 320 attack drones and almost 900 guided bombs in attacks this month alone.

Last week the Biden administration said it would send $300 million in military assistance to Ukraine, but added that it was an extraordinary move after unexpected savings from military contracts the Pentagon had made. Officials have not ruled out that they could find additional savings, but they say that amount would not be enough to make up for the lack of Congressional action.__The News