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Opening Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the 19th Ukraine Defense Contact Group (As Delivered)

It's great to see you all again.

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to travel to Brussels this week. I look forward to bringing this Contact Group together in person soon.

I'd planned to be in person with you today in Brussels, but I had to return to the hospital for non-surgical procedures. I'm in good condition, and my cancer prognosis remains excellent. And I'm really grateful for all the well wishes.

Thanks for working across time zones to join us for the 19th meeting of this Contact Group.

As always, I'm glad that we're joined by a distinguished delegation from Ukraine, led by Minister Umerov. Rustem, it's great to have you with us again.

And I'm moved that so many allies and partners, from around the globe, are with us today.

That's a testament to this coalition's resolve and unity.

And we won't back down.

Ladies and gentlemen, later this month, we will mark two full years since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of its peaceful and democratic neighbor Ukraine. 

When Putin launched his unjust and unprovoked war of choice, he was betting that Ukraine would fold. 

But he couldn't have been more wrong.

Ukraine fought Putin's invasion with incredible courage and phenomenal skill.

And nations of goodwill around the world rallied to Ukraine's cause.

The countries of this Contact Group—almost two years later—are still united in common purpose. 

The Kremlin keeps on betting that we will all lose interest in Ukraine, and that our support will flicker and fade.

But I am more determined than ever. And I know that you are as well.

This Contact Group remains resolute, undaunted, and firm.

And make no mistake. The United States continues to stand foursquare with Ukraine. And America will continue to support Ukraine's principled fight against Putin's imperial aggression.

The Kremlin is sinking deeper into its self-inflicted isolation.

But this coalition of some 50 countries worldwide is here to roll up our sleeves, and get to work.

And our allies and partners continue to shoulder the burden of our shared security.

Almost two years in, we continue to send security assistance to the battlefield, and we are now building coalitions for Ukraine's long-term security.

And we remain focused on accountability for the assistance that we're providing to Ukraine.

We'll work together today on Ukraine's near-term requirements, including its urgent need for more artillery ammunition and air-defense missiles.

And what we're calling the “capability coalitions” are standing up and moving out.

They are helping to build the foundations for a Ukrainian future force that will deter and defend against continued Russian aggression.

And we will continue to adapt our support to Ukraine's short-term and long-term security requirements.

So let me thank everyone who is leading the capability coalitions. You are tackling truly crucial tasks.

That means building up Ukraine's future artillery force and supplying it with enough ammunition.

It means equipping Ukraine with F-16s and the infrastructure to keep them flying.

And it means ensuring that Ukraine has an integrated and layered air-defense network to protect its civilians, cities, and skies.

We'll keep using the nimble framework of the capability coalitions to adapt to Ukraine's evolving security requirements.

Each of these coalitions underscores our unity and resolve to help Ukraine—and to confront Russian aggression.

We'll continue to work together to get Ukraine what it needs to hold onto its gains, and to keep pushing back Russia's illegal occupation in the months ahead.

The Kremlin's cruelty is especially clear during another winter of war.

Putin's forces brazenly bombard Ukraine's cities with ballistic missiles and Iranian drones.

But Ukraine continues to defy the Kremlin and fight for its sovereign rights.

And we will continue to dig deep to provide Ukraine with both short-term and long-term support.

The countries of this coalition, including the United States, support Ukraine because it is the right thing to do, and because it is in our core national-security interests. 

Putin's indefensible war of aggression poses a massive challenge to security and stability in Europe and beyond.

And the Kremlin's invasion is a frontal assault on the hard-won, post-World War II international order that condemns aggression, defends state sovereignty, and upholds human rights.

So the outcome of Ukraine's fight against Putin's imperial aggression will help define global security for decades.

And for people of principle and governments of conscience, standing aside while Ukraine fights for its very existence is not an option.

Ukraine will not surrender.

And neither will we.

And with that, we'll pause for a moment as our friends in the media depart, and then start our agenda. Thank you.