Denmark has pledged to supply Harpoon missiles to Ukraine, which is trying to counter the blockade imposed by the Russian navy on the port of Odessa, vital for Ukraine’s wheat exports, the head of the country announced on Monday. Pentagon, Lloyd Austin.
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Twenty countries pledged to provide additional weapons to Ukraine to deal with Russian forces at the second meeting of the ‘Ukrainian Defense Contact Group’, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced .
“Today’s meeting went very well,” he said. “Many countries will donate ammunition for artillery, coastal defense systems, tanks and other armor that are essential” for the Kyiv army, he added.
Among the equipment to be delivered to Ukraine, Denmark has notably undertaken to send a Harpoon anti-ship missile launcher system, one of the most sophisticated systems equipping Western navies.
The Harpoon is usually carried on board warships or submarines, or even bombers, but Denmark is the only country to have acquired the modified version of this missile launcher which is installed on a truck and thus becomes a battery coastal defence.
Equipped with an autonomous radar and a sophisticated navigation system, the Harpoon flies at low altitude to avoid enemy radars. According to its manufacturer Boeing, it is capable of hitting a target at sea or on land with a range of 125 to more than 300 km depending on the version.
Sevastopol within reach
When Ukraine receives it, the Harpoon could therefore put the port of Sevastopol, in Russian-occupied Crimea, within reach of the Ukrainian army.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has worsened a global food crisis, with the two countries alone supplying 30% of the world’s wheat trade.
Russia imposes a maritime blockade on Ukraine, the world’s 5th largest wheat exporter, and Ukraine has mined the approaches to its coasts, in particular to protect the port of Odessa, the main exit port for the country’s agricultural production, a recalled on Monday the American Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley.
“It’s important for Ukraine’s economy and beyond,” he said. “Many countries in the world depend on Ukrainian grain.”
But he recalled that the United States, which does not want to intervene directly in the Ukrainian conflict, “does not currently have a warship in the Black Sea”. “We don’t intend to have any unless ordered to do so,” he added.
The Czech Republic has pledged to supply attack helicopters, tanks and missiles.
Since the first meeting of the contact group last month in Germany, “the pace of donations and deliveries has been exceptional”, welcomed Mr. Austin.
But the US Secretary of Defense refrained from specifying the armaments that the United States would provide to Ukraine after the approval by Congress of additional aid to Ukraine of 40 billion dollars.
Asked about the possibility of supplying kyiv with the latest generation Himars (High mobility artillery rocket system) artillery batteries, he noted that Ukraine’s needs had not changed at this stage: artillery, tanks, drones and ammunition.
“Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they go far beyond Europe,” he added. “Russian aggression is an affront to the international order.”
The Himars have a range of 70 to 150 km, far superior to the M777 howitzer batteries whose effective range does not exceed 40 km.
This contact group is due to meet in person on June 15 in Brussels, on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO ministers.