Pentagon says more high-tech weapons going to Ukraine

  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, speak with reporters Monday at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Nearly 50 defense leaders from around the world met Monday and agreed to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine, including a Harpoon launcher and missiles to protect its coast, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters.

And Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that “low-level” discussion is underway on how the U.S. may need to adjust its training of Ukrainian forces and on whether some U.S. troops should be based in Ukraine.

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The U.S. withdrew its few troops in Ukraine before the war and has no plans to send in combat forces. Milley’s comments left open the possibility troops could return for embassy security or another non-combat role.

The U.S. embassy in Kyiv has partially reopened and is staffing up again, and there have been questions about whether the U.S. will send a Marine security force back in to help protect the embassy.

Asked if U.S. special operations forces may go into Ukraine, which officials have insisted they are not doing yet, Milley said that “any reintroduction of U.S. forces into Ukraine would require a presidential decision. So we’re a ways away from anything like that.”

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, Austin declined to say if the U.S. will send Ukraine high-tech mobile rocket launchers, which it has requested. But Austin said that some 20 nations announced Monday that they will send new packages of security assistance to Ukraine, as its war with Russia reaches the three-month mark.

In particular, he said that Denmark has agreed to send a Harpoon launcher and missiles to Ukraine to help Ukraine defend its coast. Russia has ships in the Black Sea and has used them to launch cruise missiles into Ukraine. The Russian ships have also stopped all commercial ship traffic.

“We’ve gained a sharper, shared sense of Ukraine’s priority requirements and the situation on the battlefield,” Austin told reporters at the close of the virtual meeting with the defense leaders.

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