Release
Immediate Release

Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Calls With NATO Ally Counterparts

Feb. 24, 2022

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby provided the following readout:

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke today with fifteen of his NATO Ally and European counterparts regarding Russia’s unfounded and unprovoked war against Ukraine.

The Secretary spoke individually with Defense Ministers from Canada and Turkey. He also convened a virtual European Quint meeting with his counterparts from France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

This afternoon, Secretary Austin also participated for the first time in a secure teleconference with the counterparts from the Bucharest Nine (B-9) Countries – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

Secretary Austin made clear that the United States stands united with our Allies and partners to support Ukraine and to deter aggression against NATO, while avoiding conflict with Russia. The United States’ commitment to defending NATO territory is ironclad and the United States will continue to bolster our posture to better defend our NATO Allies.

The Secretary conveyed that in the face of Russian aggression, the United States has deployed an additional 15,000 forces in recent days and weeks and now has more than 90,000 U.S. service members in Europe. We have repositioned other forces within Europe to assure our Allies and deter Russian aggression against NATO.

The Secretary lauded the unifying steps taken at NATO earlier today and commended Allies for the steps they have taken to bolster NATO’s Eastern Flank and to provide security assistance to Ukraine.  He asked NATO Allies to consider additional contributions to strengthen NATO’s defensive posture and bolster Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself in the face of Russian aggression.

Secretary Austin further called on Allies to maintain resolve in imposing costs on Russia for its reckless war of choice and flagrant violation of international law. The Secretary stated that despite Russia’s best attempts to divide us, the United States and its NATO Allies remain united and stronger together.

Separately, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Dr. Celeste Wallander, and other senior OSD officials conducted high-level consultations with over a dozen other Allies and partners to reiterate similar themes.