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Opening Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the 14th Ukraine Defense Contact Group (As Delivered)

Good day, everyone. Thanks for joining us for the 14th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. And again, I'm especially glad that we're joined again by our good friend, Oleksii Reznikov. Oleksii, your leadership reflects the fierce determination of your people.

Ukraine has inspired the world with its courage and spirit in the face of lawless Russian aggression.

Russia's war of choice has now lasted more than 500 days. It was entirely unprovoked. It is entirely unnecessary. And it is entirely unjust.

Russia continues to bombard Ukraine's cities. No civilian is safe. And Russia's missile barrages and drone strikes have inflicted untold death, injury, and trauma on innocent Ukrainian men, women, and children.

But after more than a year of war, the whole world can see Russia's failure to achieve the goals of its war of aggression.

The Ukrainian people have shown deep resilience in the face of great cruelty. And Ukraine's forces continue to fight valiantly to defend their fellow citizens and their country.

Ukraine's counteroffensive marks a key moment in this tragic war. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have taken the initiative to regain control of their sovereign territory. But Russia's aggression against Ukraine has produced a highly volatile situation. Putin's war continues to take a terrible and bloody toll.

As I've said, Ukraine's fight for freedom is a marathon, not a sprint. We have supplied Ukraine with critical capabilities such as air defense and ammunition. And we're not going to let up.

So this Contact Group has come together again to stand up for some crucial shared principles. Sovereignty. Human rights. Freedom. And a refusal to live in a world where big countries can just invade their peaceful neighbors and redraw borders by force.

So make no mistake. We will continue to move heaven and earth to get Ukraine what it needs.

And this Contact Group is an ongoing testament to our shared resolve. And we will continue to stand with Ukraine's defenders as we have since the start of Russia's indefensible invasion. We will continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs, when it needs it.

And the United States will continue to support Ukraine as it strengthens its capabilities and fights to live in freedom and security. We will continue to provide training, equipment, and support to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, to help build a capable and professional Ukrainian military that can defend itself now and deter aggression in the future.

Earlier this month, the United States provided another security assistance package for Ukraine, valued at $800 million. That package funds more air-defense systems and munitions—as well as critical rounds of ammunition that Ukraine needs right now. We're also providing more Bradleys, Strykers, Javelin anti-tank systems, and mine-clearing equipment.

This package underscores President Biden's deep commitment to support Ukraine for the long haul.

And I am proud that we are joined in this historic effort by so many staunch allies and valued partners. And we deeply appreciate the efforts that all of you have made to support Ukraine's right to live as a sovereign state.

Recently, Norway committed to sending additional components that will expand Ukraine's NASAMS air defense systems. Germany will support a new package worth $770 million, which will include Patriot launchers, 24 Leopard tanks, 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, and 20,000 artillery rounds. In addition, France announced that it will provide Ukraine with SCALP long-range missiles. And Australia will send 70 additional military vehicles and much-needed artillery ammunition to Ukraine.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ukraine is fighting for its life. The stakes are high. But this Contact Group has never shied away from a challenge.

This is a profoundly important moment in the history of this war and of this century. And the United States will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. And so will this Contact Group. And together, we will continue to move heaven and earth to let Ukraine defend its freedom.

And so with that, I'll pause to let our friends in the media depart.