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Remarks at Bilateral Meeting with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Poltorak

Minister Poltorak, Ambassador Chaly, members of the delegation, welcome to the Pentagon. It is a pleasure to host you here after our last meeting together in August. I have fond memories of my time in beautiful and historic Kyiv as you celebrated the anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.

Since Ukraine regained its true independence in 1991, our two nations have developed a strong partnership dedicated to realizing a prosperous, secure and democratic Ukraine, free from outside coercion for the Ukrainian people to determine their own path to the future.

Today, I reiterate our support for the Ukrainian people in the face of threats to your nation’s sovereignty, as Russia seeks to redraw international borders by force, undermining democracy throughout Europe. Ukraine’s determination to stand steadfast along the line of contact gives credence to the words of your national anthem, “soul and body we will lay down for our freedom,” and we honor the continued sacrifice of your soldiers in this conflict. The United States stands with you in pursuit of freedom in the face of Russian aggression.

The U.S. will continue to engage Russia to end its violence in eastern Ukraine, withdraw its forces and weapons, and honor both the letter and spirit of its international commitments. Alongside our democratic allies, the United States will continue supporting international norms and the rule of law.

I am confident that you will stay the course in pursuit of your ambitious defense reform goals, including continued progress on anti-corruption reforms, as you modernize in accordance with NATO standards, so the world and the Ukrainian people can admire your military’s ethics and effectiveness.

The U.S. remains dedicated to developing your military’s defensive capabilities and NATO interoperability as U.S. and allied soldiers from Canada, Lithuania, Poland, and the U.K. continue to train with your forces in western Ukraine.

Today, we look forward to discussing pragmatic steps to strengthen further our military-to-military relationship. Mr. Minister – it’s good to host you here.

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