WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged on Tuesday to send more artillery weaponry to Ukraine in the face of an all-out Russian assault on that country’s East.
Biden spoke with Johnson, Trudeau and other allied leaders in a secure video call from the White House Situation Room as the Russian invasion reached a new phase.
Asked by reporters during a visit to New Hampshire if the United States would be sending more artillery to Ukraine, Biden replied yes.
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.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to providing Ukraine security and economic and humanitarian assistance.
“We will continue to provide them more ammunition, as we will provide them more military assistance,” Psaki said. She said the United States was preparing another round of sanctions to impose on Moscow.
In their 90-minute video call, Biden and the allies discussed their diplomatic engagements and coordinated efforts to further impose “severe economic costs to hold Russia accountable,” Psaki said.
They are to coordinate through the G7, the European Union and NATO, she said.
Russia seized its first town in eastern Ukraine as part of a fresh assault that Ukraine has described as the Battle of the Donbas aimed at taking two provinces.
The United States sees Russia carrying out a “prelude” to larger offensive operations in the eastern part of its neighboring country, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.
Biden’s video call began at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT) and ended at 11:21 a.m. EDT (1521 GMT), with Biden speaking from the White House Situation Room.
Others on the call included European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as well as the leaders of Italy, Japan and Poland.
A French presidential adviser said the allies had discussed how to provide security guarantees to Ukraine after the war if it is not part of NATO and its automatic defense mechanism known as Article 5.
“Our country is ready to provide security guarantees,” the French official said. “It would be military supplies so that it can deal with a new attack or, possibly, guarantees that would see us get involved if Ukraine is attacked in a way where we could assess how to assist it.”
These guarantees would look more like the defense clause the European Union currently has among its members, the French official said, rather than a defense mechanism similar to NATO’s Article 5, which triggers automatic military support if a member is attacked.
Allies also discussed the need to persuade non-EU, non-G7 countries to treat the war in Ukraine as an issue that concerns world peace and not just Europe or the West, the French official said.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists. Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason in Washington and Michel Rose in Paris;Editing by Alistair Bell and Howard Goller)