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Immediate Release

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Statement on the 19th Ukraine Defense Contact Group

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III provided the following statement today on the 19th Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting:

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group has just wrapped up its 19th meeting—and another highly successful one. We convened virtually, and I look forward to soon convening another session of this Contact Group in person. 

Ever since our first meeting in Ramstein, it has been inspiring to see some 50 of our trusted allies and partners worldwide rally together to support the embattled democracy of Ukraine. This broad, steady, and determined coalition is a stark contrast to Putin's increasingly self-isolated Russia—left alone with the likes of Iran and North Korea. 

America's unparalleled network of allies and partners remains a strategic asset that no rival can match. America's allies extend our strength, magnify our power, and deepen our security. 

Later this month, we'll mark two years since the Kremlin launched its reckless war of imperial aggression against Ukraine. When Putin ordered his unprovoked and indefensible invasion, he assumed that Ukraine's forces would collapse—and that Ukraine's friends would cower. 

But Ukraine's troops have fought like lions, and countries of conscience from around the world have raced to get Ukraine's back. That has made a historic difference on the battlefield, enabling Ukraine's brave defenders to retake more than half of the land grabbed by the Kremlin since its all-out invasion on February 24, 2022. 

Ukraine's struggle matters profoundly for global security. We support Ukraine's self-defense because it is the right thing to do—and because it is crucial to American and global security. 

Putin's inexcusable war of choice poses a direct threat to security and stability in Europe and beyond. If we falter, if we give Putin reason to doubt our collective determination, if we meet Putin's naked aggression with retreat instead of resolve—we will only embolden him and other would-be aggressors worldwide. That will invite more turmoil and tyranny, in Europe and far beyond. 

So we will not allow Putin to prevail. Neither will the allies and partners who stood together again today, shoulder to shoulder, united by both pragmatism and principle. 

This historic, U.S.-led coalition of some 50 countries from around the globe has committed more than $85 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Putin began his appalling all-out invasion in February 2022. In fact, as a percentage of GDP, more than a dozen of our allies contribute more to Ukraine's self-defense than the United States. 

Today, the entire Contact Group focused on Ukraine's urgent needs on the battlefield—and to helping prepare the Ukrainian future force that can deter and defeat Russian aggression over the long haul. 

Together, we are deepening our commitment to Ukraine by leading what we call "capability coalitions." And they have hit the ground running. In just a few months, thanks to exemplary leadership and participation from our fellow Contact Group members, we have set up eight capability coalitions. That will help us continue to meet and anticipate Ukraine's battlefield needs, and lay the foundation for Ukraine's long-term security. 

The United States is proud to co-lead two of these capability coalitions. Together with Denmark and the Netherlands, we are leading the coalition helping Ukraine meet its urgent needs for air-force capabilities. We are also working with our French allies to co-lead the capability coalition on artillery.  

The United States is deeply grateful to the other friends that have stepped up to lead the other capability coalitions: Denmark and the Netherlands; Germany and France; the United Kingdom and Norway; Poland and Estonia; and Luxembourg, Latvia, and Lithuania. The capability coalitions are the sturdy, flexible structure to ensure that we can meet Ukraine's requirements over the long haul. 

The outcome of Ukraine's struggle will help determine the trajectory of security in the 21st century. We understand the stakes—and we understand the dangers of retreat. 

Almost two years into Putin's bloody and dishonorable invasion, the United States and our trusted allies and partners continue to stand firmly with the Ukrainian people and with the brave Ukrainian troops fighting for their country's freedom. And we continue to stand strong for the shared security that comes from an open world of rules, rights, and responsibilities.