Ukraine’s battle against the Russian invaders continues to inspire Americans with the daily examples of Ukrainians’ courage and resilience, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal today.
Austin reiterated to the Ukrainian leader that the United States will continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” to defeat Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It was the second Pentagon meeting between the two men. The first was in the weeks after Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of Ukraine. “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 of Ukrainians from their homes,” Austin said. “Russia chose aggression, but Ukraine chose to fight back.”
The secretary cited the Ukrainian victories in Kyiv, Kharkov and Kherson. “With President Biden’s leadership, the United States has supported Ukraine’s fight for freedom every step of the way,” he said.
The United States has surged billions of dollars’ worth of military capabilities and supplies to Ukraine since the invasion began. The United States has sent Javelin anti-armor weapons, air defense capabilities, armored vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, howitzers, long-range rocket artillery and more to the embattled nation. “That has made a clear and direct difference on the battlefield,” the secretary said. “We’ve also expanded our training to ensure that Ukraine can synchronize its fires and its maneuver capabilities to advance on the battlefield.”
Austin also praised Ukraine’s cooperation in ensuring the U.S. aid is accounted for and going into the right hands.
Austin told Shmyhal that he will continue to convene the Ukraine Defense Contact Group to coordinate support for Ukraine’s urgent and long-term needs.
The prime minister thanked the American people for their continuing support for Ukraine.
“We will win this war,” Shmyhal said. “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 airstrikes, more heavy artillery, mortars and ammunition for them. We also ask you for reconsider the possibility of providing Ukraine with longer range missiles.”
The prime minister said Ukraine needs more heavy equipment, but also needs aircraft. He thanked Austin for the Abrams tanks that the United States will provide to Ukraine, as well as the Bradley and Stryker infantry fighting vehicles. “In modern warfare, air superiority is crucial,” he said. “That is why Ukraine is initiating the building of a new, so-called 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 aircraft.”
Shmyhal thanked Austin for his leadership of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, saying the consortium has grown to more than 50 nations.
Austin told the prime minister that he is confident “that we will meet Ukraine’s defense needs through this spring and beyond.”
Source: Defense Government