Portugal will be one of the participants in a meeting that will bring together the United States and 20 other countries next Tuesday at a U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany, to discuss Ukraine’s defense needs, an official source said.
A source in the national defense told Lusa on Saturday that “Portugal is present with a high-level delegation” from the ministry in person, and Minister Helena Carreiras will participate in a video conference.
A Pentagon source said Friday that the Washington-sponsored meeting will be attended by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who represents the administration led by Joe Biden.
At least 20 other countries have already confirmed their presence, but more participants are expected, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon) said. John Kirby said the Pentagon had invited 40 nations and was awaiting further confirmations.
Some of the invited countries belong to NATO, although the meeting will not be held under the auspices of the Atlantic Alliance, as it was decided that this organization will not provide military assistance to Ukraine, even if its members do it individually, a Pentagon spokesman explained.
The agenda includes the exchange of information on the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.
In addition, the United States and allies are discussing how Ukraine’s armed forces can be modernized to meet all the challenges, he added.
The United States and 30 other states, including Portugal, have been sending military aid to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked the allies for military assistance, confirming the appeal as Russian forces have concentrated their operations in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks.
The Russian attack has already killed more than 2,000 civilians, according to UN data, warning that the actual number is likely to be much higher.
The military offensive has already displaced more than 12 million people, more than 5 million of them out of the country, according to the latest UN data – the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II (1939-1945).