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Opening Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the 22nd Ukraine Defense Contact Group (As Delivered)

Hello, everyone. It's great to see everyone again. And thanks for joining us for the 22nd meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

Let me start by welcoming our partners from Ukraine: Minister Umerov and your teammates. We're meeting at a moment of challenge. Putin's invaders have launched another offensive onto sovereign Ukrainian territory. And the Kremlin's forces will try to make further advances in the weeks ahead — and try to carve out a buffer zone along the Ukrainian border.

This is a hard and dangerous fight. But Ukraine's defenders are showing extraordinary courage and skill. And they're putting the capabilities that this Contact Group has provided to good use.

Putin's new offensive in Kharkiv just underscores the importance of this Contact Group. Some 50 countries of conscience from around the world are standing up for Ukraine again today. And we're going to continue to get Ukraine the support that it needs.  

The United States remains determined to do our part. We are again delivering urgently needed assistance to Ukraine. And the security assistance that we are now rushing to Ukraine will make a difference in this fight. That includes 155-millimeter artillery rounds and ammunition for HIMARS. It includes air-defense capabilities and anti-armor systems, which come from a billion-dollar drawdown from our stocks after President Biden signed the national-security supplemental last month.

And thanks to the passage of the supplemental, we'll continue to approve substantial security assistance packages for Ukraine. And you'll see a steady flow of U.S. assistance to Ukraine week after week.

President Biden announced an additional package worth $400 million earlier this month. And that will help Ukraine defend Kharkiv and other frontline areas under renewed Russian threat.

We've already delivered many of Ukraine's top-priority requirements, and much more assistance is on the way. That includes additional munitions for NASAMS and Patriot air-defense systems, more HIMARS systems and ammunition, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems.

This package also includes armored vehicles. And that's essential for Ukraine's work to reconstitute its arsenal.  

Meanwhile, our fellow Contact Group members continue to step up to meet Ukraine's most urgent needs. Together, they have now committed more than $95 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of Putin's full-scale invasion in February of 2022.

Now, the Kremlin continues to intensify its bombardment of Ukraine, using Russian missiles and Iranian drones to strike more civilian targets across Ukraine's territory and to put more innocent civilians — Ukrainians in the crosshairs. So air defense will be high on our agenda today. And I'll be urging all of our valued allies and partners to reassess their ability to get Ukraine the air-defense capabilities that it so urgently needs.

Now, even as we work together to blunt Putin's renewed assault, we'll continue to build toward Ukraine's long-term security. We now have eight Capability Coalitions up and running. And that provides a sustainable, practical, and nimble mechanism for our allies and partners to coordinate with one another and to meet Ukraine's immediate needs and to build a formidable and sustainable future force to ward off future Russian aggression.

I'm grateful for the work that all of our leads and co-leads of the Capability Coalitions are doing. And that includes coordinating cross-cutting issues through the Capability Coalition Leadership Group. And I'm looking forward to hearing the updates today from the maritime coalition and the integrated air and missile-defense coalition.

Ladies and gentlemen, the weeks and months ahead will be crucial. So we'll continue to act with resolve. Ukraine's survival and success are central to Ukrainian security, European security, global security — and American security.

If Putin prevails, tyrants will conclude that they can also try to invade and conquer their sovereign neighbors. That will leave Europe under Putin's shadow and make the world more violent and chaotic. So Ukraine's struggle for freedom and security matters to us all. 

And I am more determined than ever to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs to succeed.  

And with that, let me pause for a moment while our friends in the media depart.