From left, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov, attend the opening meeting of the ‘Ukraine Defense Contact Group’ at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, Friday, April 21, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaThe US and its allies have made ample use of organizations like NATO, the EU and the G7 to assist in administrative affairs related to the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. But they’ve also created new ones. Among these is the ‘Ukraine Defense Contact Group’, aka the ‘Ramstein Group’ or ‘Ramstein Format’. What is its purpose? Sputnik explains.Another meeting of the facetiously named ‘Ukraine Defense Contact Group’ was held at the Ramstein Airbase in Germany on Friday – the 11th of its kind since the first was organized in late April of 2022.Friday’s meeting featured a number of loud proclamations. NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg announced that alliance members had “agreed that Ukraine will become a NATO member,” and highlighted the need for the delivery of more jets to Kiev.Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin talked up the gathered officials’ “shared unity and resolve,” repeating Washington’s ‘Ukraine is fighting for freedom’ talking points and boasting about the “more than $55 billion in security assistance” that has been sent to the country over the past year, which he pointed out was “a tenfold increase since we first met.”WorldUS Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Speaks at Ukraine Defense Contact Group Meeting 08:06 GMT
What is the Ukraine Contact Group Meeting at Ramstein?
The Ramstein Group/Format is a NATO-led format of meetings organized in April 2022 to coordinate the funneling of tens of billions of dollars in Western military hardware to Ukraine in support of the US-led proxy war against Russia. The group – which consists of defense ministers of several dozen US-allied countries, has met 11 times since its inception – about once per month over the past year, apart from August and December.The first Ukraine-related meeting at Ramstein was held on April 26, 2022. Follow-up meetings have taken place both at the base, as well as NATO headquarters in Brussels, and virtually.
Which Countries are Participants of the Ramstein Format?
In addition to Stoltenberg (who is sometimes substituted by NATO assistant secretary general for operations Thomas Goffus), the format’s members include the Ukrainian defense minister, the defense ministers of all 31 NATO members, plus Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco and Tunisia, which are represented either by their respective defense ministers or by senior defense officials or commanders. The latter countries are reportedly there to provide mostly “symbolic support.”
What Kinds of Results Have the Meetings Achieved?
At the meetings, Ukraine typically lobbies for new deliveries of weapons, including more and more advanced armaments. NATO officials summarize weapons deliveries, and formulate plans for new transfers. The meetings have proven highly ‘successful’ in that they have facilitated prolonging and escalating NATO’s proxy war against Russia, while complementing behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to sabotage Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations.A major ‘breakthrough’ occurred at a Ramstein Format meeting in January, when NATO countries agreed for the first time to send heavy battle tanks to Kiev.Military2023 Ramstein Air Base Meeting: What’s on Agenda?05:09 GMT
Is Ramstein a NATO or US Base? Who Owns It?
The Ramstein Format is held at the Ramstein Air Base, a major United States Air Force facility in Rhineland-Palatinate, southwestern Germany.Ramstein is one of more than a dozen major US and NATO bases dotting western and southwestern Germany. American forces have been stationed in the country since the end of World War II. The base is also a major NATO command center – featuring the headquarters of NATO Air Allied Command (AIRCOM). Ramstein has served as a major strategic hub for US-led military operations since the end of the Cold War, being used extensively during the 1991 Gulf War, NATO police actions and bombings in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus drone bombings across the Middle East Africa and the shipment of weapons to jihadists in the dirty war in Syria. German opposition lawmakers have repeatedly called for the closure of all US bases on German soil, while others have made a push to at least try to stop US drone operations out of the base, but to no avail. In late 2020, Germany’s top court ruled that Berlin carries no legal responsibility for ensuring that US drone operations involving Ramstein comply with international law.
How Many US Soldiers Are Stationed at Ramstein?
Ramstein is the largest US Air Force Base in Germany, comprising over 7,000 active duty airman (reportedly the largest number anywhere on Earth apart from the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas), plus nearly 10,000 other troops and support personnel, and over 6,200 German nationals working at the base.WorldTop German Court Rules Berlin Can’t Force US Drones Using Ramstein Base to Refrain From War Crimes27 November 2020, 18:43 GMT
Are There Other Ukraine-related ‘Contact Groups’?
The ‘Ukraine Defense Contact Group’ shouldn’t be confused with the ‘Normandy Contact Group’, also known as the Normandy Format – another group created to deal with the crisis in Ukraine but featuring a very different purpose.The Normandy Format, which included Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia, began meeting in the summer of 2014 in a bid to resolve the civil war which had broken out in the Donbass in the aftermath of the February 2014 coup in Kiev. The first Normandy Format meeting took place on the sidelines of ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France – hence the name.Normandy Format meetings eventually led to the signing of the Minsk Peace Agreement in February 2015. Under that landmark agreement, Ukraine would be able to reabsorb the Donbass in exchange for constitutional reforms that would grant the rebel regions broad autonomy. Kiev never implemented its side of the deal, and for eight years, the Donbass war became a frozen conflict punctuated by regular shelling, sniper attacks and occasional Ukrainian maneuvers seeking to grab off bits of land near the contact line. In 2022, after Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine, the former leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany each admitted that Kiev and the West never intended to follow through with the Minsk deal, and that the agreement was just a ploy to buy time for an eventual conflict with Russia.WorldMinsk Agreements Helped Ukraine Beef Up Its Military, Merkel Tells Russian Pranksters20 February, 16:10 GMT