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Mattis, Ukrainian President Discuss Security Challenges, Cooperation

June 20, 2017 , DOD News

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met today at the Pentagon to discuss security challenges and defense cooperation.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as he arrives at the Pentagon, June 20, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, welcomes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Pentagon, June 20, 2017. The pair met to discuss security challenges and defense cooperation. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as he arrives at the Pentagon, June 20, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Pentagon Welcome
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, welcomes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Pentagon, June 20, 2017. The pair met to discuss security challenges and defense cooperation. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Photo By: Sgt. Amber I. Smith
VIRIN: 170620-D-SV709-007

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Dana W. White, chief Pentagon spokesperson, said the two leaders discussed recent activities by the combined Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, as well as U.S. security assistance efforts to improve Ukraine's internal defense capabilities and the professionalization of the armed forces.

Mattis emphasized the U.S. support of the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements in support of Ukraine's sovereignty, she said, and he encouraged Ukraine to remain committed to reforms that will make their defense enterprise more effective and efficient. Poroshenko underscored the importance of staying in close communication and further strengthening bilateral defense relations, she added.

Before the meeting, Mattis and Poroshenko met briefly with reporters.

Shared Interests

"Our two nations, as we both know, share interests," Mattis said. "We also share, more importantly, a commitment, and that commitment is to the principles underlying the international order. Words like sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom from coercion come to mind. We do not take such freedom for granted, and we recognize that 2014 was a watershed year for security in Europe.  We also recognize the severe casualties that your people have suffered.

"And even in the face of dangers from aggression, cyberattacks and more," he continued, a neighbor shredding trust, your country has shown a strong commitment to defend itself, and, frankly, against all odds. The United States stands with you. We support you in the face of the threats to sovereignty, to international law, or to the international order."

The Ukrainian president noted the role the United States has played for his country.

"We keep our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our independence significantly because of effective cooperation with our strategic partner, the United States," Poroshenko said. "And I think that we can extend our cooperation, because we fight not only for our territorial integrity and independence, not only for our sovereignty. We're fighting for freedom. We're fighting for democracy."