Newly delivered military vehicles will be used to provide urgent support to Ukrainian troops on the battlefield, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. Photo by Ukrainian President Press Office/UPI | License Photo
April 27 (UPI) -- NATO allies have delivered nearly all combat vehicles that were promised to Ukraine to shore up the country's defenses against the continuing Russian invasion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Thursday in Brussels.
More than 98% of reinforced military vehicles have already arrived in Ukraine, comprising 1,550 armored haulers, 230 tanks, and other combat equipment, including vast amounts of ammunition, Stoltenberg said during a press conference at NATO headquarters.
The military vehicles will be used to deliver urgent support to Ukrainian troops on the battlefield, including medical supplies, mobile satellite systems and equipment to set up pontoon bridges, Stoltenberg said.
NATO's leader used the press conference to highlight the delivery of modern air defense systems, advanced digital systems and other high-tech ground equipment, but he warned that "we should never underestimate Russia. Because what the Russian forces lack in quality, they try to make up in quantity."
Since the war began in late February 2022, NATO allies have provided more than $71 billion in military assistance and have trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops.
NATO allies have also come through for Ukraine on a big number of armored vehicles, including battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other types of combat machines, Stoltenberg said, while the United States has provided more than $35 billion in additional military support.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. will deliver several rocket-launching air-defense vehicles along with a fleet of U.S. M1 Abrams tanks that will arrive in Germany for training Ukrainians, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III said Friday.
Stoltenberg was joined at Thursday's briefing by Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, who was there to tout his country's contributions to NATO's Ukraine fund along with a new fleet of tanker transport aircraft.
Stoltenberg also applauded Luxembourg for increasing its national defense budget, and encouraged Bettel to invest more in the country's military amid "a more dangerous world."
"We must stay the course and continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs to prevail," Stoltenberg said, noting the alliance had trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian armored brigades that would "put Ukraine in the strong position to continue to retake occupied territory."
The message also reaffirmed Ukraine's imminent entry to the international alliance after Stoltenberg visited Kyiv for the first time since the Russian invasion last week, saying "Ukraine's rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family."
During the visit, Stoltenberg again invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend the next NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July, where the agency plans to announce a multi-year aid package for Ukraine.
"My message is clear -- NATO stands with Ukraine for as long as it takes," Stoltenberg said Thursday.
The prospect of Ukraine joining NATO comes as Finland officially became a member of the global body earlier this month, expanding the alliance to 31 countries and doubling NATO's shared border with Russia.
Stoltenberg also expressed hope that "maybe this war will end at the negotiating table" when asked about the possibility of peace talks following Zelensky's phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.
"I think is important that China gets a better understanding of the Ukrainian perspectives," Stoltenberg said. "This doesn't change the fact that China has not been able to condemn Russia's illegal war, illegal invasion of Ukraine, and NATO Allies have expressed strong support to President Zelenskyy's peace plan, which includes, of course, full respect for Ukraine's territorial integrity."
Bettel agreed, saying "Sometimes it's not that easy to have a dialogue with China, but it's important, and I think that the biggest mistake that we could make is to push China closer to Moscow."