Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III affirmed today the unwavering resolve among the U.S. and its partners in support of Ukraine.  

Marking two years since Russia’s unprovoked invasion, Austin said the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group continues to stand united in common purpose to support Ukraine’s short- and long-term battlefield needs.  

“When [Russian President Vladimir] Putin launched his unjust and unprovoked war of choice, he was betting that Ukraine would fold,” Austin said as he kicked off a virtual meeting of the UDCG from Washington. “But he couldn’t have been more wrong.”  

The secretary praised the courage and skill with which Ukraine has fought back against Russia’s full-scale invasion and the determination of international partners who have rallied in support of Ukraine’s defenders.  

“The countries of this contact group, almost two years later, are still united in common purpose,” Austin said. “The Kremlin keeps on betting that we will all lose interest in Ukraine, and that our support will flicker and fade, but I am more determined than ever. 

“This contact group remains resolute, undaunted and firm,” he said.  

Today’s meeting marked the 19th iteration of the UDCG, a U.S.-led coalition comprising nearly 50 countries.  

It comes amid continuing negotiations on Capitol Hill over President Joe Biden’s request to Congress to continue critical funding for military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.      

Earlier this week, the Senate approved a supplemental funding measure which would include additional funds for Ukraine security assistance in addition to providing urgent support for Israel following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists along with humanitarian support for Palestinian civilians in Gaza.  

The measure also provides additional resources for U.S. Central Command to deter attacks by Iranian-backed militia groups and protect vessels operating in the Red Sea from attacks by Houthi rebels.  

In a statement yesterday, Austin applauded the Senate passage and urged the House to pass the measure.  

“The need for this supplemental [funding] may be most urgently felt in Ukraine,” Austin said. “Top Ukrainian defense officials have already warned us that their units no longer have the stores of ammunition that they need to hold off Putin’s invading forces.” 

In his remarks ahead of the UDCG, Austin further emphasized the imperative to continue to support Ukraine, warning that the outcome of the fight against Russia’s aggression will define global security for decades. 

“For people of principle and governments of conscience, standing aside while Ukraine fights for its very existence is not an option,” he said. “Ukraine will not surrender, and neither will we.”

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