BRUSSELS — NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels on Wednesday for more meetings on the long-term response to Russia’s war against Ukraine, including boosting the production of armaments and ammunition.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Russia has “lost strategically, operationally and tactically,” after he met in Brussels with defense chiefs from countries supporting Kyiv.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
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- NATO is “looking for ways to enhance our defense industrial capacity,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. Ukraine’s backers expect the war, which is depleting ammunition stocks, to intensify in the coming months.
- NATO hopefuls Finland and Sweden were set to take part in Wednesday’s meetings. “The main question is not whether Finland and Sweden are ratified together,” Stoltenberg told reporters earlier. “The main question is that they are both ratified as full members as soon as possible.”
- Ukraine shot down several small Russian balloons over Kyiv on Wednesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said in a statement posted to Telegram. The balloons appeared to be decoy targets meant to divert attention and waste ammunition, the statement said.
- The head of Russia’s Wagner Group said that “for a long time” he ran the internet troll farm that faced U.S. sanctions over charges of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, whose mercenary forces are fighting alongside Russia in Ukraine, said on Telegram that he created and managed the Internet Research Agency to “protect the Russian information space from the boorish aggressive propaganda of anti-Russian assertions from the West.”
- Ukraine’s armed forces said heavy fighting is raging around Bakhmut. Russian artillery pounded districts in the besieged city as Ukrainian troops fought to repel attacks, the military said early Wednesday. Russian forces have ramped up their attacks in recent weeks on the city in the eastern Donetsk region.
- Britain is “delivering for Ukraine the effects they need on the battlefield,” rather than fighter jets, which require months of training, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Wednesday. He said Ukraine’s backers can help faster by providing weapons such as antiaircraft missiles. Kyiv is renewing calls for aircraft now that allies, including the United States and Germany have pledged heavy tanks, although Western officials indicate they are unlikely to send jets anytime soon.
- The European Union is targeting Iran in its latest package of sanctions against Russia, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced Wednesday. The move seeks to stop Iran from providing drones for Russia’s war in Ukraine, her statement said. The package, which requires approval from the 27 E.U. nations, includes export bans worth 11 billion euros targeting critical technology and goods such as electronics, specialized vehicles and spare parts for trucks and jet engines.
- Moldova briefly closed its airspace after the Defense Ministry reported the sighting of a balloon-like object in the sky on Tuesday. Earlier this week, Moldova’s president accused Russia of plotting a coup against the country’s pro-West government. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the claims “baseless and unsubstantiated.”
- The United Nations said Wednesday it was appealing for $5.6 billion to help millions of people in Ukraine and countries that have taken in refugees by providing food, health care and other aid needs.
From our correspondents
Ukraine’s allies rush to send more equipment, risking logjams: Senior U.S. officials say time is growing short for Ukraine’s backers to dispatch vast quantities of new equipment that its forces are awaiting to launch a spring counteroffensive, Karen DeYoung and Emily Rauhala report.
“There was a palpable sense of urgency as top military and defense officials gathered here for the latest meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group,” they write from Brussels.
Ables reported from Seoul, Francis from London, Cunningham from Washington and Abbakumova from Riga, Latvia. Beatriz Rios in Brussels contributed to this report.