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Austin Underscores U.S. Commitment to Ukraine in Meeting With Counterpart

Two men stand next to one another at the top of some stairs outside a building. Service members line the stairs from bottom to top.
Honor Cordon
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, center right, and Ukrainian Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov, center left, stand for the playing of the U.S. and Ukrainian national anthems during a meeting at the Pentagon, July 2, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza, DoD
VIRIN: 240702-D-PM193-1136

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III previewed a new military assistance package for Ukraine today as he met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov at the Pentagon.

The package, valued at more than $2.3 billion, includes additional air defense interceptors and other critical munitions. 

The air defense capabilities will be delivered to Ukraine's front lines under an accelerated timeline enabled by the Pentagon's recent announcement that it would resequence deliveries and some foreign military sales to other allies and partners to ensure Ukraine has what it needs at a critical point in the war. 

Two men wearing civilian attire and two men wearing military uniforms sit at a table displaying U.S. and Ukrainian flags.
Defense Group
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, second from right, hosts the 23rd iteration of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, far left; Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, far right; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 13, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander C. Kubitza, DOD
VIRIN: 240613-D-PM193-1303

"Ukraine is in a tough fight and has been ever since the start of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's reckless war of choice," Austin said. "The Kremlin continues to intensify its bombardment of your cities and civilians. But I continue to be impressed by the skill of your forces, and your troops continue to fend off Russia's attacks with grit, ingenuity and courage." 

The secretary underscored the United States' resolve in assisting Ukraine in the face of these challenges.  

"Make no mistake, Ukraine is not alone," Austin said. "The United States will never waver, and our support alongside some 50 allies and partners will continue to provide the critical capabilities that Ukraine needs to push back Russian aggression today and to deter Russian aggression tomorrow." 

The two leaders met as NATO allies prepare for next week's summit of member states in Washington. 

Austin said the allies will take steps "to build a bridge for NATO membership for Ukraine" during the summit. The alliance marks its 75th anniversary this year. 

The allies are also expected to formalize further steps to meet Ukraine's long-term defense requirements.  

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last month the group has agreed to a plan for how NATO will lead the coordination of future security assistance and training for Ukraine's armed forces. 

A fireball erupts from a tank on a field.
Tank Fire
U.S. soldiers fire rounds from an M1A2 Abrams tank during a live-fire exercise at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Jan. 31, 2024. The soldiers are assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, whose mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Alex Soliday
VIRIN: 240131-Z-JS531-1058

The effort will involve nearly 700 NATO personnel and partner countries, who will oversee training for the Ukrainian armed forces at facilities in allied countries. The alliance will also plan and coordinate security assistance for Ukraine, manage the transfer and repair of equipment, and support the long-term development of Ukraine's armed forces.  

"These efforts do not make NATO party to the conflict," Stoltenberg said following a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels in June. "But they will enhance our support to Ukraine to uphold its right to self-defense." 

Today's meeting follows the signing of a 10-year bilateral security agreement by President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address Ukraine's security needs into the future. 

Austin said that agreement, which was signed during the Group of Seven summit in Italy last month, further reflects the United States' "strong and enduring support for Ukraine."  

"I look forward to discussing more ways to meet Ukraine's immediate security needs and to build a future force to ward off more Russian aggression," Austin said.

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