By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The United States, Britain, and Canada have pledged to send more artillery to Ukraine to help its soldiers defend regions in the east of the country, where Russia has begun an all-out assault.
U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters after a call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and other Western leaders on April 19 that artillery would be among the next round of munitions that the United States would send.
Speaking in London, Johnson told lawmakers: “This will become an artillery conflict, they need support with more artillery, that is what we will be giving them…in addition to many other forms of support.”
Trudeau said Canada would be sending heavy artillery and promised to provide more details.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States is trying to focus on sending systems that Ukrainian forces can put in the field almost immediately along with equipment that does not require lengthy training.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was also on the call with Biden and the other leaders, promised that Berlin will finance direct arms deliveries from German industry.
He said anti-tank weapons, air defense equipment, ammunition and equipment that can be used “in an artillery engagement” were among the weapons that could be supplied by Germany.
Systems from Eastern European nations that could be quickly deployed because they are familiar to Ukrainian troops are also being considered, Scholz said.
Scholz said Germany and its partners in the Group of Seven industrial nations have concluded that it makes more sense to send systems that would be familiar to Ukrainian troops such as the Soviet-era weapons that some NATO partners still have.
Western partners would then help those countries acquire replacements.
The priority has been to deliver what can be supplied and used quickly, he said, starting with equipment from Germany’s own limited supplies and then funding purchases by Kyiv. But he said Germany would not “go it alone” on weapons, and that any decisions would be made in close cooperation with “friends and allies.”
Scholz has faced growing pressure at home to authorize sending heavy weapons to Ukraine. He and his center-left SPD party have for weeks argued that doing so would risk a spiral of escalation that could see other countries attacked.
Scholz’s government has pledged more than 1 billion euros in financial aid for Ukraine so that the government in Kyiv can buy the weapons it needs to fight back. But reports of atrocities committed against civilians have fueled calls for a tougher stance.
The German chancellor told reporters that Russia’s invasion remains a “blatant breach of international law.”
“The killing of thousands of civilians as we have seen is a war crime for which the Russian president bears responsibility,” he said.
“We feel immense grief for the victims and also, it must be said, great anger toward the Russian president and this senseless war.”