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Austin Says Croatia's Support for Ukraine Is Commendable

The United States appreciates Croatia's steadfast commitment to help Ukraine, said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

A military officer shakes hands with another officer during a ceremony.
Coin Presentation
Croatian army Maj. Nenad Vecenaj, left, outgoing commander of the 10th Croatian Contingent, Thunder, NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland, presents a coin to Army Command Sgt. Maj. Sean Allison, command sergeant major of Battle Group Poland and the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, during a handover ceremony in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, Jan. 24, 2023. The Croatian army is proudly working alongside the 1st Infantry Division, NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, under America's forward deployed corps in Europe.
Photo By: Army Sgt. John Schoebel, Army National Guard
VIRIN: 230124-Z-SV327-1318

Austin hosted an enhanced honor cordon and meeting, today, welcoming Croatian Defense Minister Mario Banozic to the Pentagon.

Croatia's commitment to Ukraine consists of numerous military equipment donations, including all of its Mi-8 helicopters, as well as humanitarian assistance, Austin said.

"All of that is making a real difference in Ukraine's fight for freedom. I look forward to your perspectives on the challenges posed by Russia's cruel invasion of its peaceful neighbor Ukraine," he said. 

Croatia has become a reliable defense partner and a valued NATO ally, he said.

Croatia has forward-deployed its forces to NATO battle groups in Poland, Lithuania and Hungary, the secretary said.

An airman shoots a weapon.
Training Time
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert L. Seawright, 31st Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, shoots a Croatian weapon during the Croatia Noncommissioned Officer Summer Camp in Kovčanje, Mali Lošinj, Croatia, July 20, 2023.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230720-F-F3254-1001

The nation has made impressive progress over the last 30 years, since the end of the Croation War of Independence, fought from 1991 to 1995. Since then, Croatia has become a fully integrated member of NATO and the European Union, Austin said.

"That kind of progress doesn't just happen. It takes hard work and sound policy. And it takes a willingness to set aside differences and to look to the future," he said.

"One of the bedrocks of a democracy is the strength of its institutions," Austin said. Croatia's ministry of defense and armed forces have both played pivotal roles in the nation's transition to a peaceful and stable democracy, he said. 

Austin said he looks forward to discussing Croatia's defense modernization and its continued investments in its armed forces, as well as its ongoing state partnership with Minnesota's National Guard.

Banozic said the United States is a strategically important ally to Croatia.

Croatia, he said, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States to defend global security and deter aggression. "We are committed to this fight."

A sailor looks into the distance from a ship.
On Watch
Navy Lt. j.g. Melissa Ramkissoon, with the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, stands officer of the deck duty as the ship departs Rijeka, Croatia, Aug. 1, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Malachi Lakey
VIRIN: 230801-N-LK647-1200

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