Defense Secretary Austin: Supporting Nations to Meet on Ukraine War Monthly

Defense Secretary Austin: Supporting Nations to Meet on Ukraine War Monthly us defense secretary lloyd austin speaks during a press conference

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 26 April 2022 02:44 PM

A group of more than 40 countries will start meeting monthly to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said after the group’s first meeting Tuesday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“I’m proud to announce today’s gathering will become a monthly contact group on Ukraine’s self-defense,” Austin said. “The contact group will be a vehicle for nations of goodwill to intensify our efforts, coordinate our assistance, and focus on winning today’s fight, and the struggles to come.”

Before to the meeting, Austin said the group called the Ukraine Defense Consultative Group is made up of more than 40 countries to help Ukraine “win the fight against Russia’s unjust invasion — and to build up Ukraine’s defenses for tomorrow’s challenges.”

Austin said he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Kyiv on Sunday and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the support and the changing needs of during the battle in the eastern Donbas and southern region of the country.

“That visit only underscored my sense of urgency — an urgency that I know we all share,” Austin said. “So, I’d like this whole group to leave today with a common, transparent understanding of Ukraine’s near-term security requirements — because we’re going to keep on moving heaven and earth to meet them.”

Austin said President Joe Biden is committing the United States to “more than $5 billion of equipment to support Ukraine’s defense,” including $3.7 billion since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24.

“As we see this morning, nations of goodwill from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression. And that’s the way it should be,” Austin said. “This gathering reflects a galvanized world. Since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, more than 30 of our allies and partners from across the globe have joined the United States to rush security assistance to Ukraine.”

Austin said other countries in the group, including Germany and Canada, would also be sending Ukraine military equipment to aid in the fight.

“That is important progress, and we are seeing more every day,” he said. “I applaud all of the countries that have risen, and are rising, to meet this demand.”

Austin said that the coming weeks of the war would be crucial for Ukraine, and that the group needs to “move at the speed of war” in aiding Ukraine.

“I know that all the leaders leave today more resolved than ever to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and atrocities,” he said. “We are all determined to do even more to better coordinate our efforts.”

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