May 24, 2022
Defense officials from 47 countries met virtually on Monday to discuss supporting Ukraine with military aid, and 20 of those countries pledged to provide Kyiv newer, more high-tech weapons or other military assistance, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a press conference. He said the U.S. is "especially grateful to Denmark" for committing to send Ukraine U.S.-made Harpoon anti-ship cruse missiles and a launcher and to the Czech Republic for "a recent donation of attack helicopters, tanks, and rocket systems." "And today, several countries announced new donations of critically needed artillery systems and ammunition, including Italy, Greece, Norway, and Poland," Austin said. "The nature of the fight" in Ukraine "is really shaped by artillery in this phase, and we've seen serious exchanges of artillery fires over the last several weeks." The "most powerful and destructive" weapon the West has provided Ukraine so far is artillery, the U.S.-made M777 howitzer, and due largely to training bottlenecks, only about a dozen of the 90 M777s sent to Ukraine are being used on the front lines, The New York Times reports from eastern Ukraine. "They fire three miles farther than the most common artillery system used by the Russian army in the Ukraine war, the Msta-S self-propelled howitzer — and 10 miles farther if shooting a precision, GPS-guided projectile." Ukraine had fired 1,876 rounds as of Sunday, "This weapon brings us closer to victory," Col. Roman Kachur, commander of Ukraine's 55th Artillery Brigade, told the Times. "With every modern weapon, every precise weapon, we get closer to victory." A dozen howitzers can only do so much, though, says Michael Kofman, an expert on Russia's military. "Artillery is very much the business of quantity," he told the Times, and "the Russians are one of the largest artillery armies you can face." More artillery and other weapons systems are on the way, Austin said. "Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they stretch far beyond Europe. Russia's aggression is an affront to the rules-based international order and a challenge to free people everywhere."