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Western fund hits €1.5B in pledges to boost Ukrainian defense

A group of Western allies including many EU countries and the U.K. pledged more funding to help boost Ukraine’s defense capabilities Thursday, reaching €1.5 billion, as Kyiv prepares for a “marathon” war with Russia. 

Representatives from 26 countries, led by Denmark and the United Kingdom, met in Copenhagen to discuss how to sustain longer-term defense assistance for Kyiv, including funding, training and the production of artillery and ammunition. Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov said participating countries had “committed more than €1.5 billion to the table for Ukraine,” noting that Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic also “signaled willingness to expand production of artillery systems, ammunition and other equipment.” 

“Ukraine’s fight is our fight,” Bødskov told reporters following the meeting. “Today’s conference,” he said, “has been about more than just words.” 

The announcement comes after the U.S. earlier this week also authorized its largest delivery yet of military aid to Ukraine, with a $1 billion package of ammunition, weapons and equipment.

Iceland agreed at Thursday’s conference to lead work on a demining training mission for Ukraine. And several countries — including Denmark and Norway — committed to joining a U.K.-led program to train Ukrainian soldiers. 

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who spoke alongside his Danish and Ukrainian colleagues, said his country is now committed to going beyond an earlier goal of training 10,000 Ukrainian troops over the coming months. 

“We’re going to train more and for longer,” Wallace said. “As long as Ukraine needs our support in that training, and depending on the speciality.” 

During the conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged officials to provide more weapons and ammunition. 

“To really stop Russia, the Armed Forces of Ukraine must have as many shells as necessary to make it tangible that Russia is not able to put pressure on the battlefield,” Zelenskyy said via video link. “And Ukraine needs weapons of such power, such a long range that Russia is forced to finally think about finding a peaceful solution.” 

Speaking after the meeting, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he was “satisfied with the conference.” While noting that many concrete details are classified, Reznikov said participants agreed on “clear initiatives and commitments” in areas including arms production. 

“I am glad that we all have common sense that there is no time for fatigue,” he said, adding that for a “marathon” there is a need for “energy and, frankly speaking, the main energy in this case is money.” 

A full breakdown of what each country pledged Thursday was not immediately available. But ministers attending the meeting underscored that a key goal now is to maintain the current momentum and keep assistance flowing to Ukraine in the longer term. 

“No one can be tired at the moment,” Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told POLITICO. “It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” he said, adding that “more and more, we will see new needs and new things we have to take care of.”

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