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Ukraine live briefing: NATO to talk boosting ammunition; U.S. hosts defense meeting in Brussels


BRUSSELS — NATO defense ministers are convening to discuss sending more supplies to Ukraine as they warn of a renewed Russian offensive.

Moscow is “preparing for more war,” which makes it “even more important” to boost ammunition for Kyiv, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday. He said the military alliance would address “how to ramp up production to be able to provide the necessary ammunition to Ukraine and to replenish our own stocks.” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is in Brussels for the NATO meeting, will also host a gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which includes more than 50 nations supporting Kyiv with weapons or aid.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

1. Key developments

  • Sending fighter jets to Ukraineis not the most urgent issue now, but it is an ongoing discussion,” Stoltenberg told reporters. He said that while some countries had started training Ukrainian pilots, NATO’s “top priority” was to deliver weapons already promised to Ukraine. He mentioned U.S. Abrams and German Leopard tanks, along with armored vehicles, air defenses and ammunition as Kyiv braces for a spring counteroffensive.
  • NATO’s secretary general raised concerns that Western ammunition stocks are being depleted after a year of supplying Kyiv. “The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of ammunition,” with the rate of consumption higher than production, Stoltenberg said. He said Tuesday’s meeting would look at how to “strengthen our defense industry.”
  • Norway will provide eight Leopard tanks to Ukraine, joining other European nations that have pledged to send tanks from their stocks to the battlefield. Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said the country’s defense minister made the announcement during the NATO meeting.
  • Austin said Ukraine’s allies must intensify efforts and supply Kyiv’s “urgent requirements to help it meet this crucial moment in the course of the war.” He told military and defense chiefs in Brussels that “we still have much more to do together” and that “the Kremlin is still betting that it can wait us out.”

2. Global impact

  • Ukraine’s Western backers have indicated they will not be supplying warplanes to Kyiv soon, The Washington Post reported. Western leaders cited an insufficient supply of the jet, said they would need time to train Ukrainians to operate them and noted that they are prioritizing other, more urgently needed military equipment. U.S. defense officials have also said it would take too long to deliver jets and that the aircraft would be challenged by Russian air defenses.
  • Moldovan President Maia Sandu accused Russia of plotting a coup in her country to install a pro-Kremlin administration and put the Eastern European nation at the disposal of Moscow’s war in Ukraine, citing intelligence provided by neighboring Ukraine. The alleged plot was meant to undermine Moldova’s increasing tilt toward Europe and involved sending agents to “undertake violent action, carry out attacks on buildings of state institutions or even take hostages,” she said.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Moscow repeated a warning for Americans not to travel to Russia. It said in a statement that Russian authorities may single out U.S. citizens for detention or conscript dual nationals into the Russian military.
  • A diplomatic flurry on Ukraine awaits the Biden administration in the coming days. After Austin meets with defense counterparts in Brussels, President Biden is going to Poland days before the one-year mark of the invasion, while officials including Vice President Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend a major security conference in Germany this week.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promised long-term support for Ukraine during a meeting with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels on Feb. 14. (Video: Reuters)

3. Battlefield updates

  • The Biden administration will announce another large military assistance package in the next week, The Post reported. Officials will announce the imposition of more sanctions on the Kremlin around the same time. The administration is separately working with Congress on a $10 billion assistance package for Kyiv.
  • Biden officials say recent aid packages from Congress and allies are Kyiv’s best chance to change the course of the war, The Post reported. U.S. officials are telling Ukrainian leaders they face a critical moment, raising the pressure on Kyiv to make gains on the battlefield while weapons and aid from the United States and its allies are surging. Many conservatives in the Republican-led House have vowed to pull back support.

4. From our correspondents

Russians abandon wartime Russia in historic exodus: At least 500,000 people have left Russia during the one-year war in Ukraine, “a tidal wave on scale with emigration following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991,” Francesca Ebel and Mary Ilyushina write.

Some have fled to countries including Armenia and Kazakhstan. Others with visas went to Finland, the Baltic states or elsewhere in Europe, they report.

Videos show long lines of people waiting at Russia’s Mashtakovo border crossing with Kazakhstan on Sept. 22 and Sept. 25, after Russia’s military mobilization. (Video: @aidos0070)

Francis reported from London and Jeong from Seoul. Emily Rauhala in Brussels contributed to this report.