By Tom Squitieri
Red Snow News
BRUSSELS: In the days before World War One, Germany’s ambassador to Belgium, Clause von Below-Saleske, said he was happy to be in this capital city after stints in danger zones because “Nothing ever happens in Brussels.”
The Ukrainians here to meet with friends and NATO nations fervently hope that not to be true today.
In a geographic switch, Ukraine’s supporters open key meetings today here — as opposed to Ramstein, Germany — as a Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine appears to be taking form. Not yet formed: promised deliveries of armor, artillery, air defense to Ukraine, as ammunition is being depleted.
In one shorthand, it is a contest between Russian forces relying increasingly on sheer weight of numbers while Ukraine is counting more on the quality that comes with advanced western systems and training to blunt Russian advances and launch a counter-offensive.
“It is clear that we are in a race of logistics,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Monday. “Key capabilities like ammunition, fuel, and spare parts must reach Ukraine before Russia can seize the initiative on the battlefield.”
Three senior defense officials briefing reporters on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s plane en route to Brussels said the Ukraine meeting will stress armor, artillery and air defenses. There will also be updates on repairs and maintenance.
They insisted that all nations are taking steps to replenish stockpiles. “The engine is firing at a very fast pace” one said.
Existing and future supply of weapons to Ukraine will both be on the table when the defense group meets at NATO headquarters for the first time.
NATO allies will also hold a meeting of defense ministers directly afterward to hear the latest assessment from Ukrainian counterparts and discuss the alliance’s future defense challenges.
“Of course it is important to discuss new systems, but the most urgent need is to ensure that all the systems which are already there, or have been pledged, are delivered and work as they should,” Stoltenberg said.
The three senior defense officials said the training Ukrainians are now receiving to synchronize artillery fire with ground movements will give them an edge over the Russians in the upcoming fights.
They also said innovations continue that permit the Ukrainians to marry western weapons with their Russian-style systems — specifically the use of U.S.air-to-air missiles being adapted to be fired from older Ukrainian ground launchers.. When asked about other such innovations they said “yes” but “not sure we can share” with a big smile.