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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Secretary, welcome back to Washington.  It is indeed a real pleasure to host you here again, especially at this moment.  You know, we just saw each other two weeks ago in Ramstein at the first meeting of what's now the contact group on Ukraine security.  

I want to thank you personally, Ben, for joining that meeting.  I look forward to seeing you at future contact group meetings as well as at the NATO defense ministerials which are coming up here pretty soon.  

The U.S.-U.K. relationship is strong, and even more vital after Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  And as you know, the United States and the United Kingdom stand firmly in solidarity with Ukraine's armed forces and its people.  The world is in awe of their courage and I'm proud to be working with you to help Ukraine defend its democracy and its sovereignty.  

Now, Russia's invasion has entered a different phase that is no less dangerous, but we will continue to work together with unity and resolve to rush Ukraine what it needs to defend itself now and in the future.  

Mr. Secretary, I'd like to tell you that in my view, few countries have stepped up with security assistance to Ukraine the way that the U.K. has.  Your country is a leader among allies and partners in providing security to Ukraine; security aid to Ukraine.  

The U.K. has made its own contributions as well as working to encourage donations and facilitate deliveries of security assistance to Ukraine through the U.K.-led international deconfliction coordination center.  And all of this has made a real difference on the battlefield.  So please accept my sincere thanks for what you and your country continue to do to help Ukraine defend its freedom and its citizens.  

And I look forward to discussing how we can continue to work together to support Ukraine, and strengthen our own close partnerships in other key areas.  

Once again, it's always a pleasure to see you, Secretary, but it's especially good to see you here in Washington, so welcome back.  

U.K. SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE BEN WALLACE:  Thank you, Secretary for your warm welcome back to the Pentagon.  And can I thank you and the United States for your leadership both in NATO, but also on Ukraine.  And words and deeds matter, deeds matter more often than words.  That has been absolutely clear throughout all of this, Ukraine war with Russia's illegal invasion, that the United States demonstrated by their deeds they stand by their allies.  

There are many people who talk that throughout all of this, and way before back to 2015 the United States was in Ukraine, by Ukraine, both with training and support, and in military aid in a way that no other country was.  And because of that, Ukraine is stronger today and able to hold out in their defense against a very aggressive Russia.  

So on behalf of the United Kingdom, I want to thank you for that leadership.  It's a leadership that has been at the heart of NATO, and people have criticized NATO in the last few years.  But I think response to this Russian invasion has shown that actually NATO is far from brain dead, NATO is alive, well, and united.  

So, thank you.  

SEC. AUSTIN:  Thanks, everybody.