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Washington, allies will step up supplying air defense systems to Ukraine: Defense secretary

Washington and its allies will step up supplying air defense systems to Ukraine, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Friday.

“What Ukraine needs most urgently is ground-based air defense capability,” Austin told a news conference, adding that they will do everything to provide these systems.

“I have to applaud the work that our partners are doing. I believe that we can still do more, and I’m asking them to do more, and I believe that they will respond,” he said.

Austin’s remarks came after a Ukraine Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, which brought together top military officials from countries supporting Ukraine.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley praised Ukraine’s “success” so far in defending its airspace against Russian aircraft, and said they will focus on how to further develop Ukraine’s capabilities.

“The most critical thing right now is that air defense system – to make sure that it is robust, it’s rigorous, it’s deep, and it’s layered from high-altitude to mid-altitude to low-altitude, and from short-range, mid-range to long range,” he said.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters after the meeting that Germany, Poland and Ukraine have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a maintenance hub in Poland to repair Leopard tanks used in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed that American-made M1A1 Abrams tanks, which will be used by Ukrainians for training, will arrive in Germany in the next few weeks.

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