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Opening Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the 17th Ukraine Defense Contact Group (As Delivered)

Well, good day, everyone.

And thanks for joining us for the 17th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

It's great to see everyone on the screen today.

As you may know, I just got back from Kyiv, where I met with President Zelenskyy, Minister Umerov, and General Zaluzhny.

I also met with brave Ukrainian troops, who are just back from the front lines.

And my message to them was simple: We will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

We're focused on supporting Ukraine as it continues to fight through this winter and defend its critical infrastructure.

And through this extraordinary group of some 50 countries, we remind the world of our shared commitment to support Ukraine today—and for the long haul.

So, let me thank Minister Umerov and his delegation for joining us today.

Rustem, it was great seeing you, President Zelenskyy, and other Ukrainian leaders on Monday in Kyiv.

It was also great to spend some time with your troops.

Since my last visit to Kyiv in April 2022, they have continued to fight bravely against Russian aggression. Ukraine has regained 50 percent of the territory lost since February 2022.

And it was moving to see once again firsthand the resilience of the Ukrainian people, who stand firm in the face of continued attacks.

So Rustem, I'm looking forward to another productive Contact Group with you.

For more than 20 months, the people of Ukraine have shown the world the power of a free people to resist Putin's aggression.

And Ukraine's fight for freedom matters to us all. As President Biden has said, when tyrants don't pay a price for their aggression, they continue to menace the world.

And none of us want to live in a world where bullies like Putin can invade their peaceful neighbor with impunity.

And we refuse to let the shape of global security be dictated by autocrats who rely on repression by force at home and coercion by force abroad. 

We've gathered today because we share a vision for a world that is free, open, prosperous, and secure.

And so I'm proud that this history-making Contact Group has committed more than $80 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Kremlin launched its indefensible invasion.

And I'm proud of your steadfast commitment.

Our unity sends a clear message to Putin that he cannot outlast us or prevail in a contest of wills.

And as Putin continues his tragic, unnecessary war, he has been forced to look for support from Iran and North Korea.

It was chilling to see a delegation from Hamas—led by one of the terrorist group's leaders—brazenly visit Moscow on October 26 to meet with senior Russian officials.

Both Ukraine and Israel are facing relentless foes, who are out to annihilate them.

And we see that Iran is fueling conflict in both Gaza and Ukraine by arming Hamas and Putin.

Iran's support to the Kremlin and Hamas harms Ukraine, harms stability in the Middle East, and it affects the rules based international order.

This is a moment of global challenge.

But make no mistake. The United States is fully capable of continuing our strong support for Ukraine even as we stand with Israel in its hour of need.

So as Ukraine faces another winter of war, I urge this group to provide Ukraine with air-defense capabilities to protect its people.

You know, just days before my visit to Kyiv, Putin's forces launched a new barrage of missile attacks at Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine.

He did that to try to damage Ukraine's energy grid.

Russian attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure could mean suffering and death for countless innocent Ukrainian civilians.

But I remain more confident than ever that the Ukrainian people will stay resilient in the face of hardship. That's because they are fighting for their homes, for their families, and for their very future.

And so, as we dig deep to support our partner, we must think creatively about how we can continue to meet Ukraine's needs. The United States remains committed to doing our part.

On Monday, I announced our latest security package for Ukraine, worth a $100 million.

This is our 51st drawdown of equipment from Department of Defense stocks. And it includes an additional HIMARS system and ammunition, Stinger missiles, 155-millimeter and 105-millimeter artillery rounds, anti-tank weapons, and cold-weather gear.

And I want to recognize Germany for its latest security assistance package worth $1.4 billion 
that Minister Pistorius announced yesterday in Kyiv.

This package includes critically needed air-defense systems and 155-millimeter ammunition.

Now, I look forward to discussing how we can work together to meet Ukraine's other immediate requirements.

And we'll continue to discuss ways to help Ukraine build up its future force.

I look forward to working together to identify the leaders and participants for each of our “capability coalitions.”

You know, we have already organized coalitions focused on building up Ukraine's air force and its information-technology capabilities. And today, we'll discuss the progress that's been made since our last meeting in developing a new capability coalition on ground-based air-defense.

I appreciate the leadership of Germany and France in organizing this important initiative. Last week, they held their first virtual coalition discussion.

And we're marshalling resources from across the Contact Group to support these efforts.

So I'm eager to hear updates from our current capability coalitions, as well as plans to stand up new ones.

Friends, we've got a big agenda today. And I continue to be inspired by all of your determination.

Putin stands alone. But we stand together. And we will continue to support the forces of freedom in Ukraine.

So thanks for being here. And so now we'll pause while our friends in the media disconnect.