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Biden Says U.S. Leadership Vital, Pledges Support for Israel and Ukraine

President Joe Biden underscored the importance of the United States' continued leadership amid what he said is a critical time for democracies around the globe.

In an address from the Oval Office on Thursday amid Russia's ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine and following the deadly attack against Israel by Hamas terrorists, Biden pledged that the U.S. will not waiver support of its allies.

Men and women are seated along each side of a small table with U.S. and Israeli flags.
Pentagon Meeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 13, 2023.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 231013-D-TT977-1331C

"American leadership is what holds the world together," Biden said. "American alliances are what keep us, America, safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with."

"To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine if we turn our backs on Israel, it's just not worth it," he said.

He said the actions of the Hamas terrorists and Russian President Vladimir Putin represent a common threat in seeking to "completely annihilate a neighboring democracy."

"History has taught us that when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, when dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction," he said. "They keep going, and the cost and the threats to America and to the world keep rising."

The U.S. has met this challenge with overwhelming support for both Israel and Ukraine.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. has rallied a global coalition in support of Ukraine and committed more than $43.9 billion in assistance to help the country defend itself.

The U.S. has also responded swiftly to the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel that killed more than 1,300 people, including 32 U.S. citizens earlier this month.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III underscored the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel after meeting with key leaders in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv just days after the attacks.

Sailors in uniform stand on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.
Sailors prepare to man the rails aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower as it departs Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Oct. 14, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Seaman Rylin Paul
VIRIN: 231010-N-MA550-1089

"The world has just witnessed a great evil: the deadliest attack on civilians in the history of the state of Israel and the bloodiest day in Jewish history since the end of the Holocaust," he said after meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant last week.

"So, make no mistake: The United States will make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself," he said.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said on Tuesday that the Defense Department had completed five, separate C-17 Globemaster III missions to deliver assistance, including munitions, to meet Israel's needs.

Singh added that subsequent deliveries will continue.

The U.S. has also bolstered its deterrence posture in the Middle East in response to the attacks.

Earlier this week Austin directed the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to move into the region adding to the DOD's broader efforts to signal U.S. commitment to ensuring Israel's security and deter any state or nonstate actor from seeking to escalate the war.

The 26th MEU's movement in the region comes after Austin's directive over the weekend ordering the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to join the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean last week.

Those units complement the deployment of Air Force F-15 and F-16 fighter squadrons and A-10 attack squadrons to the region announced last week.

Separately, Austin has placed about 2,000 personnel across a variety of units on a heightened state of readiness to increase the department's ability to respond in the Middle East.

Two men shake hands.
Austin and Zelenskyy
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III greets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 11, 2023.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 231011-D-TT977-1046C

The secretary has underscored the United States' commitment to support Israel while continuing to support Ukraine.

"Make no mistake, the United States will remain able to project power and to direct resources to tackle crises in multiple theaters," Austin said last week. "So, we will stand firmly with Israel as we continue to support Ukraine."

During his Thursday address, Biden previewed a budget request to Congress for continued assistance.

The request includes funds to strengthen Israel's air defense and replenish DOD stocks drawn down in the aftermath of the attacks.

It also includes a request for funds for additional weapons and equipment to help Ukraine succeed on the battlefield and shore up its economy and critical infrastructure as it defends against Russian aggression.

Additionally, the president is requesting funds to provide humanitarian assistance for those impacted by both wars.

The request also includes funds to strengthen U.S. security in the Indo-Pacific and along the U.S. southern border.

"It's a smart investment that's going to pay dividends for American security for generations, help us keep American troops out of harm's way, help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful and more prosperous for our children and grandchildren," Biden said.

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