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NATO should choose Ukraine aid over own defense – Stoltenberg

NATO members should prioritize arming Ukraine over bolstering their own defense capabilities, the secretary general of the US-led military bloc said on Wednesday. 

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“A part of the important effort we are now making across the NATO alliance to step up our delivery of air defense systems to Ukraine,” Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. 

“But Ukraine needs even more. That is why if allies face a choice between meeting NATO capability targets and providing more aid to Ukraine, my message is clear: send more to Ukraine.”

Stoltenberg pointed to Denmark as “a strong example” as it pledged in February to donate all of its artillery to Kiev. He praised both Denmark and the Netherlands for their plans to provide F-16 fighter jets, adding that he was “encouraged” by the news that the US Congress is expected soon to vote for additional aid to Ukraine, after months of delay.

The NATO chief’s appeal comes at a time when member states are struggling to deliver sufficient amounts of weapons to Ukraine without depleting their own stocks and compromising security. Officials in Kiev have blamed ammunition shortages for last year’s failed counteroffensive, as well as recent battlefield losses.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has sharply criticized Germany for refusing to donate its Taurus air-launched cruise missiles and US Republicans for stalling the $61 billion military aid bill sought by President Joe Biden.

“If Congress doesn’t help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war,” Zelensky warned earlier this month.

Berlin recently agreed to supply another US-made Patriot air defense system to Kiev. However it has refused to reverse its decision on Taurus missiles, arguing that sending them would require German personnel on the ground in Ukraine.

US House Speaker Mike Johnson has announced that he will put the Ukraine aid bill to a vote on Saturday. The legislation was previously stalled due to the bitter quarrels between Democrats and Republicans over immigration and border security.

Russia continues to insist that deliveries of foreign weapons will lead to more escalation, but will not change the course of the conflict. “The West continues to pump the Zelensky regime with weapons and is becoming an accomplice to its horrific crimes,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in January.

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