Defence ministers from NATO and European Union countries are meeting in Germany to discuss further military assistance for Ukraine.

The meeting is taking place at the US Air Force base at Ramstein.

On Monday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is chairing the meeting, said Washington wanted to see Russia weakened to the point where it would no longer be capable of an invasion like in Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting, reports suggested that Germany would pledge to supply anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine. The Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported that Germany’s defence minister was set to offer the weapons at Tuesday’s meeting.

For months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking Western allies for more weapons – saying his forces can turn the tide of the war with more firepower.

Nato countries have pledged support including defensive weapons, but western powers have been reluctant to deepen their involvement, for fear of sparking a wider conflict against nuclear-armed Russia.

Meanwhile, UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey has said it is “entirely legitimate” for Ukraine to carry out strikes within Russia to disrupt its supply lines.

He was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme following warnings from Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Nato supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Heappey says the West has been very careful about the donation of military aid, saying it was not a “purely Nato endeavour”.

Asked about reports that Ukraine has targeted a fuel depot in Russian territory, Heappey continues: “The question is, is it acceptable for our weapons to be used against legitimate Russian military targets by the Ukrainians?

“Firstly, it’s Ukrainians that take the targeting decision, not the people who manufacture or export the kit in the first place. And secondly, it is entirely legitimate to go after targets in the depth of your opponents to disrupt their logistics and supply lines.”

He adds that it is also “perfectly legitimate for the Russians to be striking targets in western Ukraine to disrupt Ukrainian supply lines. That is very much a part of war”.

RadioNig/Cynthia Akere

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