Opening Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Sixth Ukraine Defense C – Department of Defense

Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to see you all at our sixth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

We’ve come together again today—united simply by our shared determination to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty, its territory, and its people from Russia’s unjust and unprovoked assault.

The whole world has just seen yet again the malice and cruelty of Putin’s war associated with choice—rooted in aggression, plus waged with deep contempt for the rules of war.

Russia’s latest barrage against Ukraine’s cities has once again killed and wounded innocent civilians—and put targets with no military purpose in the crosshairs.

But Russia’s latest assaults have only deepened the determination of the Ukrainian individuals and further united countries of goodwill from every region on Earth.

So we gather again today to support Ukraine’s inalienable right to protect itself. And our resolve and steadiness of objective has just been strengthened.

Now, everyone here understands how this war began. As President Biden noted, “No one threatened Russia, and no one other than Russian federation sought conflict. ”

Putin chose battle. But Ukraine chose to defend itself. And it has done so magnificently.

Now, Putin assumed that his forces could quickly conquer all of Ukraine. He assumed that he could roll into Kyiv. He assumed that Ukraine could never mount a counteroffensive to retake its sovereign place in Kharkiv and beyond. He thought that the world would stand idly by as he attempted to annex four additional regions of Ukraine. And he assumed that we wouldn’t summon the unity and the solve to stand up to his imperial war of choice.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to see how mistaken all those assumptions were—well, just look at the battlefield today.

And just look around this room.

Now, Putin is trying in order to mobilize more forces—and to claim sovereign Ukrainian area for The ussr. He’s lashing out towards civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine’s cities. Plus he’s using irresponsible threats and rhetoric.  

But we remain united, focused, and resolute.

Nations associated with goodwill have seen through Russia’s sham attempt to annex Ukrainian lands. Countries around the globe have rejected Putin’s grim vision of a world where big powers can trample borders by force. And proud people within Europe plus far past have stood up for the particular rules-based international order that will keeps us all secure.

That shared determination to reinforce our own common security is what brings this Get in touch with Group together again.

Governments around the world possess rushed to provide Ukraine’s troops with the support that they need to protect their country and their citizens. That has made the demonstrable difference on the battlefield—over and over again.

Just since we last met in September, we’ve all watched as Ukraine has made extraordinary gains on the battlefield.   And despite Putin’s new assaults, Ukrainian forces have got changed the dynamics of this war. They’ve liberated hundreds of towns through Russian occupation. And they’ve retaken thousands of square kilometers of their land.

These victories belong to the particular Ukrainian soldiers. But the Contact Group’s security assistance, training, and sustainment efforts have been vital. We have made tremendous progress simply by working together.

And as the war has changed, so has the mission of this Get in touch with Group changed.

When we met last month, the Contact Group committed itself in order to sustain Ukraine’s self-defense for the long haul. And that’s exactly what we are doing.

Because our assistance for Ukraine’s right to defend itself doesn’t hinge around the outcome of any particular battle. Our resolve to support Ukraine’s defenders extends through almost all seasons.

So this Contact Group stands usa and determined. We will continue to boost Ukraine’s defensive capabilities—for today’s urgent needs and for the long haul.

So the members of this group have dedicated billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, along with humanitarian and financial assistance. We have also spurred brand new investments in our industrial bases to meet Ukraine’s defense requirements, as well as our own. And my government is deeply committed to helping Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression.

Two weeks ago, the United States announced a $1. 1 billion protection assistance package under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. That included 18 additional HIMARS plus their rocket munitions, as well as hundreds of vehicles, dozens of radars, and many counter-unmanned-aircraft systems, and much more. We will produce and deliver these highly effective capabilities over the course of the coming months—and in some cases years—even as we continue to meet Ukraine’s most pressing self-defense requirements in real time.

And just last week, President Biden approved our 22nd drawdown from U. S. stocks to swiftly provide more of the foundational systems that have helped Ukraine succeed on the battlefield. The bundle includes 4 more HIMARS, 16 a lot more M777 howitzers, 75, 000 more rounds of 155-millimeter ammunition, and more.  

And we are increasingly posturing ourselves to support Ukraine’s defense needs for the challenging months and years ahead.

I’m happy that, along with President Biden’s leadership, Oughout. S. safety assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s all-out invasion on February 24 now totals some $16. 8 billion.

And I’m deeply grateful to our valued allies and partners, who always come forward with important assistance packages of their own. Our coordinated team approach will be helping to strengthen Ukraine’s brave defenders in the future.

And that means a flow of immediate capabilities in order to Ukraine right now. It means intensifying training efforts to help Ukraine’s defenders make the best of their new capabilities. And it means pushing our industrial bases to innovate once we provide Ukraine with the tools that it requirements for the hard road forward.

Last 30 days, we talked about bringing our own national armaments directors with each other. And I’m pleased to say that their first meeting was a success—and an important step toward tackling the industrial-base challenges that we face.

So I look forward to continuing the work on our long-term investments—with an eye towards improving production, interoperability, plus sustainment capacity.

Now, I am very pleased that we’re joined once more by some of Ukraine’s brave commanders. Let me once again thank the dear friend, Ukrainian Minister of Protection Oleksii Reznikov, for his outstanding, outstanding leadership. Plus let me furthermore welcome Ukraine’s Joint Forces Commander, Major General Moskaliov.

We seriously appreciate your presence here today. And we know how terribly your people have suffered within Russia’s needless war of aggression.

We’ve watched as Putin tries to force untrained, unwitting Ruskies civilians to the front lines. And we have seen the particular stark contrast with Ukraine—which has shown the world that the army and moral power of a free people fighting for their democracy and their sovereignty prevails.

That will courage inspires us all.

And I’m also inspired by the close coordination and cooperation among nations of goodwill that has spurred so much progress on the battleground. And I am inspired as well by the dedication of the leaders in this space to stand by Ukraine in its fight for freedom.

This Get in touch with Group, and a galvanized globe, will support Ukraine’s self-defense for the long haul.

We will stand collectively to defend the rules-based worldwide order that will strengthens our own common security.

And as Chief executive Biden has said, we will uphold Ukraine’s defenders for as long as it takes.

So thank you all for coming.

And now we’ll pause a moment while our friends in the media depart, and then we’ll hear from our Ukrainian colleagues. Thank you very much.

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