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Opening Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the 20th Ukraine Defense Contact Group (As Delivered)

Thanks, Celeste. 

And good morning, everyone. 

And thanks for joining the 20th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. It's great to see everyone in person. And it's great to be back at Ramstein.  

Let me start by thanking Minister Pistorius, our host, for his wonderful hospitality—and also Minister Umerov and his delegation for joining us.     

For more than two years, Ukraine's forces have fought Putin's aggression with defiance and skill.  

Russia has paid a staggering cost for Putin's imperial dreams. 

At least 315,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded since Putin's all-out invasion in February 2022. Russia has squandered up to $211 billion to equip, deploy, maintain, and sustain its imperial aggression against Ukraine. Putin's war of choice will cost Russia $1.3 trillion in previously anticipated economic growth through 2026. 

And Ukraine's defenders continue to degrade the Kremlin's capabilities. Ukraine has sunk, destroyed, or damaged some 20 medium-to-large Russian Navy vessels. And Ukraine continues to down Russian warplanes. 

Now, Ukraine's troops face harsh conditions and hard fighting. And Ukraine's civilians endure a constant barrage of Russian missiles and Iranian drones.

But Ukraine won't back down. And neither will the United States.  

So our message today is clear. 

The United States will not let Ukraine fail. This coalition will not let Ukraine fail. And the free world will not let Ukraine fail.

Just last week, the United States announced additional security assistance for Ukraine, valued at $300 million. This is an extraordinary measure to support Ukraine's most pressing needs for air defense, artillery, and anti-tank capabilities. We were only able to support this much-needed package by identifying some unanticipated contract savings. 

But we remain determined to provide Ukraine with the resources that it needs to resist the Kremlin's aggression. And so do the countries of conscience that have gathered here today. 

Together, this Contact Group continues to dig deeper to get vital security assistance to Ukraine.  

The Czech Republic recently procured 800,000 urgently needed artillery shells.

Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden have each recently announced important new military aid packages. 

And these are investments in Ukraine's just battle against Russian aggression.

But these are also investments in our shared security, in European security, and in global security. 

We will all be less secure if Putin gets his way. And we will all be less secure in a lawless, violent world where dictators can redraw borders by force, wipe countries off the map, and rebuild their old empires.  

So Ukraine's battle remains one of the great causes of our time. 

And the Ukrainian people do not have a day to waste. And neither do we. 

So we continue to build creative, adaptable, and sustainable ways to support Ukraine's defenders. 

This Contact Group continues to move full speed ahead to get Ukraine the capabilities that it urgently needs to help Ukraine build the future force that will provide its long-term security. 

Earlier this morning, I convened the first meeting of the Capability Coalition Leadership Group. And I'm grateful to Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and the U.K. for steering the capability coalitions. 

We're coordinating on cross-cutting issues such as drones, sustainment, command-and-control, training, and galvanizing our defense industrial bases. 

The eight capability coalitions have made significant progress in recent weeks. We'll keep working together with all of the capability coalitions to identify gaps, to maintain cross-cutting needs, and to help Ukraine build a formidable force for the future.  

And we won't let up. 

The capability coalitions underscore our shared commitment to Ukraine's long-term security. And we stand united and firm. Ukraine's struggle for freedom matters to us all.  

And ladies and gentlemen, let's not kid ourselves. 

Putin will not stop at Ukraine. 

But, as President Biden has said, "Ukraine can stop Putin, if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons that it needs to defend itself." 

Ukraine's survival is on the line. And all of our security is on the line. 

So we will continue to stand together to resist Putin's campaign of conquest. 

And we will continue to keep the faith with the people of Ukraine. 

And with that, we'll pause as our friends in the media depart.