RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a gathering of military leaders from 40 NATO and non-NATO nations that Russian President Vladimir Putin “never imagined that the world would rally behind Ukraine as quickly and surely” – as the United States promised. military aid, Poland announced that it would send tanks, and Germany planned to send anti-aircraft armored vehicles.
In separate remarks to the group, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered a grim picture of the next phase of the war, as Russia tries to take full control of the southeast and from southern Ukraine. “Time is not on Ukraine’s side,” Milley said in closed-door comments provided to reporters traveling with him. “The outcome of this battle, right here today, depends on the people in this room.”
World leaders are seeking to pressure Putin to end the war which is now entering its third month. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who is in Moscow to meet Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, called for a ceasefire on Tuesday and said everything must be done “to put an end to war as soon as possible”. Lavrov, meanwhile, sounded the alarm when he told state television that the risk of the conflict escalating into nuclear war “is serious, it’s real” – but added that the Moscow’s position is that nuclear war is unacceptable. Lavrov accused NATO of waging a proxy war by giving weapons to kyiv and said weapons flowing from allies to Ukraine would be considered “a legitimate target” for the Russian military.