Tuesday, representatives of over 40 nations attended a meeting at Ramstein AFB, Germany, chaired by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The purpose of the meeting was to identify the arms and munitions Ukraine needs not to defend itself but to defeat Russia in Putin’s War; see NATO Strategy Shifts From Ukraine Must Be Defended to Russia Must Lose and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Visit Kiev Bringing Gifts and Bad News for Vladimir Putin. This meeting involved Australia, Japan, South Korea as well as European countries, and it will convene monthly to review the war and Ukrainian needs.
This meeting was important for a couple of reasons. First, it brings the major players in the effort to support Ukraine; in fact, representatives of over 20% of the membership of the United Nations were present. This imagery alone had to ricochet about the Kremlin like an APFSDS round rattling around the turret of a T-90 tank in Donbas. It also provides a valuable model for international cooperation. Rather than tired and sclerotic organizations stuffed to the gills with time-serving bureaucrats, like the UN, ad hoc task-oriented groups of invited stakeholders offer more promise for dealing quickly and effectively with security issues.
Another very important thing happened. I was proven to be correct. Those of you who know me know that nothing gets me in the happy-dance mode faster than being proven right.
Many moons ago, back when people actually read DailyKos, one of their diarists described me as someone who’d rather pull off his own head than admit being wrong. Guilty as charged.
Nearly three weeks ago, I wrote this article: Ukraine Has Joined NATO Whether Russia Likes It or Not, and More Are Yet to Follow.
The point was that the transfer of equipment to Ukraine had ceased to be Russian; it had started to be NATO. The volume of new equipment will supplant the Soviet-era stuff the Ukrainians have been stuck with. With the latest equipment comes NATO standardization in ammunition, parts, training, and tactics.
Inevitably, NATO will provide Ukraine with real tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to replace the Russian scrapheaps they and the Russian Army are using. At that point, Ukraine will be equipped and trained like any other NATO country.
What we are seeing is a complete integration of Ukraine into NATO without an official declaration. Ukrainian troops are being armed, trained, supplied, and provided with operational intelligence and planning by NATO. Shortly, we can expect to see major repairs of Ukrainian equipment performed outside Ukraine. Inevitably, new Ukrainian formations will be organized and trained in areas that Russian missiles can’t hit. We are also seeing a complete reversal of where NATO was just a couple of weeks ago, Department of Defense Dithers Over Armored Vehicles for Ukraine as Time for Action Slips Away.
A Ukrainian focused outlet Euromaidan Press covered the Ramstein meeting and picked up this quote from Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov:
“For a long time, we have been working to convince our partners that it is appropriate to provide Ukraine with Western-compliant weapons that meet NATO standards.
The strategic decision to transition Ukraine to Western-caliber technology has finally been made. In particular, we are already receiving 155-mm artillery.
Gradually, this will ensure full interoperability of the Ukrainian military with the armed forces of NATO countries, which will result in a significant strengthening of the Alliance’s eastern flank.
I will admit – three months ago an achievement like this would have been considered almost impossible. But thanks to the courage and professionalism of Ukrainian defenders, and the resilience of the Ukrainian people, everything has changed.”
Standardization of artillery ammunition is just the first step. Western infantry fighting vehicles are on the way, and with them, NATO standardization. It is a matter of weeks before older NATO tanks will enter the battlespace. Not to be overlooked is the NATO compliant C3I (Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence–or whatever they call it this week) equipment and procedures that will convert drone- and sensor-supplied data into targeting information.
The invasion of Ukraine will go down as one of the most visible “own goals” in geopolitical history. Although one of its stated objectives was to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO–something that obviously was not going to happen–it has resulted in Ukraine becoming a de facto NATO state and convincing Finland and Sweden to join in the bargain.