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Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Ukraine Defense Industrial Base Conference

Good morning, everybody. 

Thanks, Jason, for that kind introduction. It's a pleasure to be here for such an important conversation. 

Today's event highlights the close partnership between the Department of Defense and the Commerce Department. 

Secretary Raimondo and I were both at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California over the weekend. And we both carried the same message: the United States stands firmly with the people of Ukraine. And we're going to be with them for the long haul.

So let me welcome Minister Umerov, Minister Kamyshin, Mr. Yermak, and Chairman Stefanchuk. 

I know that the trip to Washington isn't easy. So thanks for being here today. 

And today's meeting happens to fall on Ukraine Armed Forces Day. Ukraine's troops have shown incredible courage and skill defending their country. So let's give them a round of applause. 

It's also great to be joined by representatives from our allies and partners, and by so many of our friends in the defense industrial base. 

We're grateful for your energy and partnership. 

And over the past 21 months, that teamwork has proven more important than ever as Putin wages his vicious war of choice against Ukraine. 

Now, I was back in Kyiv a couple of weeks ago. And I had the chance to meet with you, Rustem, as well as President Zelenskyy and General Zaluzhny. 

And that visit just underscored the human cost of Putin's tragic and unnecessary war. 

And it was yet another reminder of the resilience of the Ukrainian people.

Since the start of Putin's war of choice, the United States and our allies and partners have worked to get key weapons systems and capabilities into the hands of Ukrainian fighters. 

And that's making a huge difference. 

Since Putin's cruel and unprovoked invasion of his peaceful neighbor in February 2022, Ukrainian troops have taken back more than half of the territory grabbed by Russia.

Above all, that's a testament to the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people. But Ukraine's gains also hinge on the extraordinary coalition of some 50 allies and partners worldwide that we've forged.

The United States has committed more than $44 billion in security assistance since the start of Putin's ruthless war. 

And our allies and partners have committed another $36 billion. 

And as a percentage of their GDP, more than a dozen countries have actually contributed more than the United States.

Now, President Biden has laid down a clear objective: The United States seeks a free and sovereign Ukraine that can defend itself today—and deter more Russian aggression in the future. 

And so, together with our allies and partners, we must continue working to help Ukraine repel Russian forces today, and to build up a future force for Ukraine that can deter more Russian aggression in the years to come.

That will mean strengthening Ukraine's defense industrial base, both to maintain Ukraine's current war effort and to bolster Ukraine's national strength and deterrence long into the future.

And that's been an important opportunity for partnership with our own defense industrial base. 

One of our key strategic advantages is the power of our free-enterprise system. And that's especially important with the challenges facing Ukraine. 

We have already invested around $27 billion across more than 35 states for contracts to produce critical capabilities for Ukraine, including lifesaving air-defense systems, munitions, tactical vehicles, and other equipment.

I hope that Congress will soon pass the President's urgent national-security supplemental request, which would include another $50 billion to flow through the U.S. industrial base. 

Much of the money in the supplemental will come right back to us through investments in American jobs.

And all of this money will come right back to us through investments in American security.

At the same time, we must expand Ukraine's capacity to sustain the many different systems and platforms being provided by allies and partners around the world.

We're working to make technical data packages and advanced manufacturing capabilities more readily available. 

That will let the Ukrainians produce spare parts closer to the point of need and more swiftly return vital equipment to the fight.

And we must also strengthen the logistical and information-technology systems that bind all of these efforts together. 

A robust and resilient industrial base has hot production lines with strong, secure supply chains. And by gathering here today, we're working to bring the full power of American free enterprise and American innovation to bear to reach that goal.

Now, we're going to hear directly from our Ukrainian friends today about their short-term and long-term objectives for their defense industrial base.

And I'd like to challenge everyone in this room to think through how we can act to meet those objectives.

How can we have more frequent and robust dialogue between our respective industry partners, and open even more doors to Western investment?

How can we break down bureaucratic processes and other barriers to produce greater cooperation?

And how can we do all of this while promoting transparency and responsible corporate governance?

Time and again over our history, we've called on the full might of American industry. And our partners in the private sector have stepped up. And the last two years have been no different. 

So we have all come here together, once again, to strengthen the arsenal of democracy. 

Together with our allies and partners, I am confident that we have all the pieces that we need to help our Ukrainian friends sustain their fight for their sovereignty over the long haul.

And it's up to all of us to put those pieces together. 

At the end of the day, we all benefit from the dynamic industrial bases of our global allies and partners.

And that's important far beyond Europe. 

The whole world is watching. And we must come together to meet this moment. 

So thanks for being here and for stepping up to answer this new challenge.