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UPDATE 3-Western countries pledge $1.55 bln in military aid to Ukraine

·2 min read

* Funding pledged by 26 countries at conference

* Poland, Slovakia, Czech Rep willing to expand arms production

* UK to send more weapons to Ukraine (Adds detail, UK and Danish ministers comments)

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Western countries on Thursday committed more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.55 billion) in cash, equipment and training to boost Ukraine's military capabilities in its war against Russia, Danish Defence Minister Morten Bodskov said.

The money, which was pledged by a group of 26 countries at a conference in Copenhagen, will be used to supply existing weapons, missiles and ammunition, increase weapon production for Ukraine, train Ukrainian soldiers, and de-mine war-torn areas in Ukraine.

"We will continue to assist Ukraine in its military needs," Bodskov told journalists at the end of the conference that brought together European defence ministers to discuss long-term support for the country's defence against Russia's invasion.

Defence ministers of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic signalled willingness to expand productions of artillery systems, munitions, and other military equipments to Ukraine, Bodskov said.

Britain, which has already donated advanced weapons systems to Ukraine and given thousands of its troops military training, on Thursday pledged an additional 300 million euros, including multiple-launch rocket systems and precision guided M31A1 missiles that can strike targets up to 80 km (50 miles) away.

"President Putin would have gambled that come August...we would have all got bored of the conflict and the international community would have gone off in different directions. Well today is proof of the opposite," UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

The commitments come after the government in Kyiv made repeated appeals to the West to send more weapons, including long-range artillery, as it tries to turn the tide on Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

Ukraine said earlier this month it had received another delivery of high-precision heavy weapons from Germany and the United States.

Moscow, which has accused the West of dragging out the conflict by giving Ukraine more arms, says it is conducting a "special military operation" in Ukraine aimed at safeguarding Russia's security against NATO expansion.

($1 = 0.9684 euros) (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Sachin Ravikumar; Writing by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Terje Solsvik, David Holmes and Mike Harrison)