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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Hosted Bilat Meeting With Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine at the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Well, good morning, Mr. Prime Minister. It is indeed an honor to host you here at the Pentagon again. I last welcomed you here about a year ago, just after Russia launched its unprovoked full-scale invasion of your country.  

Since then, Russia’s cruel war of choice has killed thousands of Ukrainians, both troops and innocent civilians. And Putin’s war has driven millions more Ukrainians from their homes. 

Russia chose aggression, but Ukraine chose to fight back. And your brave forces won the battles of Kharkov, Kyiv and Kherson. And with President Biden’s leadership, the United States has supported Ukraine’s fight for freedom every step of the way. 

We’ve surged tens of billions of dollars in security assistance. Together with our allies and partners, we have delivered HIMARS and howitzers, NASAMS and IRIS-Ts, Strykers and Leopards and many other systems. And that make -- that has made a clear and direct difference on the battlefield. 

We’ve also expanded our training to ensure that Ukraine can synchronize its fires and its maneuver capabilities to advance on the battlefield. 

And together, we also remain focused on accountability. And let me commend you for the unprecedented level of transparency that Ukraine has provided to ensure that our security assistance remains in the hands of Ukraine’s defenders. 

Now, I’ll continue to convene the Ukraine Defense Contact Group to coordinate support for Ukraine’s urgent and long-term needs. And we’ll continue to swiftly deliver security assistance through procurements and from our own stocks as well. 

We also remain committed to sustainment and to ensuring that your forces receive adequate spare parts and training for maintenance. At the same time, we will keep investing in our own defense industrial base to further ramp up production. 

So, I’m confident that we will meet Ukraine’s defense needs through this spring and beyond. And as the president has repeatedly made clear, we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. 

Mr. Prime Minister, Ukraine inspires the world every day with its courage and resilience. I want to thank you for your leadership and for making this trip. 

I look forward to a great discussion. Over to you, sir.

PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Thank you so much. Dear Mr. Secretary, dear colleagues, dear journalists, I thank the American people, President Joseph Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, for their steady and continuous military support for my country, for our country. 

We are grateful for America’s initiative and establishment of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which today includes more than 50 countries. USA is our biggest partner with regard of military assistance. So, once again, I want to say thank you for weapons that help us defend our land, especially for modern air defense systems for American tanks and for more vehicles, for artillery and light weapons. 

Ukrainian soldiers have proven that they can master this in a short time and use them effectively on the battlefield. We will win this war. But to achieve it faster and with fewer casualties, Ukraine still needs intensive military support, more air defense systems that minimize the impact of Russian air strikes, more heavy artillery, mortars and ammunition for them. We also ask you for reconsider the possibility of providing Ukraine with long-range -- longer-range missiles.

To defend ourselves and defend Europe, we need more heavy equipment but also aircraft. We sincerely applaud the decision of the U.S. to join the tank coalition and supplying us with Abrams tanks but also to provide Bradley and Stryker infantry fighting vehicles. For our counterattack to be successful, we require an increase in such supplies. 

In a modern warfare, air superiority is crucial. That is why Ukraine is initiating the building of a new so-called fire -- fire -- fighter jet coalition and we are inviting the United States to become its most important participant. America can, once again, demonstrate its leadership by providing Ukraine with F-15 or F-16 aircrafts. 

Another important issue, accountability regarding American aid, is an absolute (rule ?) for us, and you mentioned this, Mr. Secretary. We constantly submit all necessary data and reports to the U.S. government, and we’ll continue to do so. We spent every dollar efficiently and transparently. Ukraine has accelerated the integration of the LOGFAS program into our military equipment control system. This allows donor countries to track new deliveries according to their state use. 

Russian must -- Russia must be defeated in Ukraine and our territorial integrity must be restored. That is the only guarantee for our lasting peace and this will be the best guarantee for security of whole Europe and the whole world. 

And I, once again, thank the United States of America and the American people for their solidarity with Ukraine. Together, we will win. Thank you so much. 

SEC. AUSTIN: Thanks, everybody.