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DOD Will Continue to Lead Support of Ukraine Through Contact Group

While NATO plans to implement more coordinated efforts to support Ukraine, the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group will continue its own efforts to orchestrate worldwide support to the nation.

This week, representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are holding a summit in Washington, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the alliance. Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and how best to provide support to Ukraine will dominate many discussions at the summit.

An aerial view of the Pentagon.
Pentagon Aerial
An aerial view of the Pentagon, May 15, 2023.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. John Wright, DOD
VIRIN: 230515-D-KY598-1316

Included in those discussions will be a new NATO effort, announced last month in Brussels, regarding a more coordinated approach to provide support to Ukraine.

Under that plan, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said would be launched this month at the summit, there will be a new NATO command located in Germany, with additional logistical nodes in the eastern part of Europe. Nearly 700 personnel are expected to be involved. 

The NATO plan involves, among other things, training of Ukrainian armed forces at facilities in NATO allied nations, supporting Ukraine through the planning and coordination of donations, managing the transfer and repair of equipment, and providing support to the long-term development of Ukraine’s armed forces.

While the new NATO-led effort is meant to support Ukraine's efforts to eject Russia from its sovereign territory, the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group will continue to assist as well.

"DOD will continue to lead [the UDCG] and support Ukraine's work to strengthen and modernize its forces for the long haul," Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing today. "There [are] some 50 countries that are part of the UDCG, which extends far beyond our 32 valued NATO allies. So, we certainly will continue to welcome NATO's involvement. They play an important role in the UDCG's capability coalitions and [also] working to advance interoperability as Ukraine builds its forces." 

The UDCG, a coalition of about 50 nations that meets monthly to discuss Ukraine's security needs, first met in April 2022 through the efforts of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

A man in business attire sitting at a conference table speaks to a group of men and women in business attire and military uniforms at the same table.  Behind the speaker are alternating U.S. and Ukraine flags.
NATO Leaders Meet
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts the 23rd iteration of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force 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-PM193-1260

During last month's meeting of the UDCG, which took place June 13 in Brussels, Austin explained the group's continued importance. 

"The outcome of the war in Ukraine will help set the trajectory for global security for decades to come," Austin said. "This contact group will continue to defend Ukraine's sovereignty and all of our security. So, we will continue to stand up to Putin's aggression and atrocities. We will continue to find new options to get Ukraine the air defenses that it needs to defend its skies and we will continue to move heaven and Earth to get Ukraine what it needs to live in freedom."

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