Nato wants to boost Ukraine’s air defences after Russian missile attacks

Western allies also need to replenish their stocks of weapons and ammunition, says Nato chief

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the recent Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities as the most serious escalation since February. Getty
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Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that boosting Ukraine's air defences will be a top priority when the alliance's defence ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday.

Talk about providing Kyiv with more assistance comes two days after the Ukrainian capital was the target of heavy Russian missile strikes.

“Allies have provided air defence, but we need even more, we need different types of air defence,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

The Nato chief said that what was needed was “short-range, long-range air-defence systems to take ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, drones”.

A first IRIS-T air defence system promised to Kyiv by Germany has reached Ukraine, with three more of these systems to be supplied next year, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Wednesday.

"A very important support for Ukraine in the fight against missile attacks, against this terror the population is subjected to," she said. "We will send further systems to Ukraine, together with Britain and the US, multiple launch rocket systems - there'll be further deliveries to Ukraine in the next few weeks."

Mr Stoltenberg described the recent Russian attacks, which killed 19 people on Monday and wounded more than 100, as the “most serious escalation since February”, when the war began.

The gathering in Brussels is the first major Nato meeting since Moscow annexed several Ukrainian territories, announced a mobilisation and issued veiled nuclear threats

In addition to discussing air defences for Ukraine, the ministers will examine how to replenish their stocks of ammunition and weapons, Mr Stoltenberg said.

“I expect that ministers will accept to review our guidelines for stocks and also to engage more with industry,” he said.

“Ukraine is a big country. So we need to scale up to be able to defend even more cities and more territory against horrific Russian attacks against their civilians populations.”

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov will take part in a US-led Defence Contact Group on Wednesday afternoon. He will also be present at a follow-up working dinner, which will include Nato applicants Finland and Sweden.

The defence ministers will also address the resilience of Nato allies' critical infrastructure after the sabotage in late September of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

Mr Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that Nato had enhanced its presence in the Baltic and North seas to 30 ships, supported by maritime patrols, in addition to exchanging best practices on the protection of critical infrastructure.

“This is about protecting, for instance, undersea capabilities or undersea infrastructure pipelines cables but also energy grids, energy production, transportation, infrastructure,” he said.

The attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines have heightened fears of further sabotage among Baltic Sea states.

Finnish Defence Minister Antii Kaikkonen said on Wednesday that his country was “obviously looking forward to becoming a full member of Nato”.

In May, Finland and Sweden asked to join Nato. The accession protocols must be ratified by all allies. So far, almost all of Nato's 30 member states have agreed, with the exceptions of Hungary and Turkey.

Mr Kaikkonen said that he would hold bilateral meetings with defence ministers from Turkey and Hungary over the coming days. On Thursday, he will also meet his Swedish and US counterparts.

Analysts previously told The National that Turkey is using Sweden and Finland’s Nato applications as a way of pressuring the US into selling F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.

Updated: October 12, 2022, 1:50 PM