On 28 September, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group met in Brussels to discuss the long-term aid being sent to Ukraine. The group includes over 50 members, each committed to supplying Ukraine with arms and equipment needed to defend against Russia. The most recent meeting included representative of 45 countries, NATO and the European Union.
This time, a major topic of discussion was standardization of equipment being shipped to Ukraine. With each state supplying whatever systems it has available, it is no surprise that the aid sent to Ukraine thus far has not been ideal from a logistics standpoint. For example, Western APCs supplied or promised to Ukraine include the ACSV from Canada, VAB from France, Spartan from the UK, Dutch YPR-765, and the American M113 from multiple sources. Naturally, with so much variety in equipment serving near-identical functions, its not easy to find and transport parts for the vehicles to where they are needed nor is it easy to train crews and mechanics.
US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William A. LaPlante, who attended the meeting in Brussels, stated that the meeting led to new commitments to establish working groups for developing multinational strategies, addressing supply chain issues, increasing production rate and improving system interchangeability and interoperability:
“This frank and open dialogue was exactly what we hoped to see as we went into the meeting. And I’m proud of the collective efforts to support Ukrainians in the long term. The ability for us to work together across all the nations … to solve challenges is inspiring.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by US Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Sasha N. Baker who was also present at the meeting. She highlighted that the recent talks underscored the strong commitment all Ukraine Defense Contact Group share and that the ultimate aim of supplying Ukraine is not just short-term provision of arms for the immediate conflict but rather to create a force up to NATO standards that Ukraine can sustain in the long term.
The next meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group will begin on 12 October.