U.S. officials are poised and ready to begin delivering needed military capabilities to Ukraine following passage of supplemental budget legislation by the House of Representatives Saturday, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said today.

The Senate must approve the bill and deliver it to President Joe Biden for his signature.  

Ryder said the legislation will make the United States and its allies and partners more secure. This new legislation is proof to Russian President Vladimir Putin that his supposition that the group supporting Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion would fall apart was absolutely wrong, the general said. 

On Friday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will host the 21st meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. The virtual meeting comes two years to the day from when Austin first convened the group. “I would say that it’s notable that despite Russia’s assumptions that the international community would fragment and lose interest in supporting Ukraine over time, the opposite has been true,” Ryder said.  

The group is composed of 50 nations, and it has remained unified in opposition to Putin’s invasion. Putin also thought his attack on Ukraine would somehow fracture the NATO alliance. “You’ve seen the NATO alliance for collective defense expand, underscoring international consensus that Ukraine’s security matters to the security of all of our nations,” the press secretary said. 

In West Africa, Ryder confirmed that discussions began between Niger and the United States on the withdrawal of American troops from Niger. “The department is providing a small delegation from the Pentagon and U.S. Africa Command to participate in the discussions,” he said. “In terms of departure timing, we are not going to speculate and get ahead of the discussion.” 

This does not mean the end of the counterterrorism mission in West Africa and the Sahel, Ryder said. “We continue to take the … terrorist threat seriously,” he said. “And we’re going to continue to work with partners throughout Africa on that front.” 

The U.S. military will continue to work with reliable partners to address the threat that affects countries and citizens all throughout the region. “We will continue to work toward that. We will continue to explore options to ensure that we can continue to conduct the kinds of counterterrorism advising, assisting and operations that we need to,” he said.

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