The U.S.-led coalition backing Ukraine will not waver in the face of Russia’s recently launched offensive, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said today.

The nearly 50-nation-strong Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which convened virtually today during what Austin called a “challenging moment for Ukraine,” remains laser-focused on arming Ukraine with critical capabilities as Russian President Vladimir Putin attempts to capture new ground in Ukraine’s northeast near Kharkiv.

Ukrainian defense leaders briefed the coalition during the meeting on defensive operations across the frontlines. 

Ukraine’s forces are in a “hard fight,” Austin said, against Russian invaders who are “obliterating Ukrainian villages, killing innocent civilians and bombarding civilian infrastructure, including dams and power plants.” 

But he said Russian troops are also paying a high cost for Putin’s aggression. 

“Ukraine is fighting for its life — which gives it the huge strategic advantage of a just cause,” he said. “Meanwhile, Putin is trying to wage a 19th-century war of imperial aggression in the world of 2024. That’s a terrible idea and a terrible strategy.”  

Ukraine’s air defense was a central topic during today’s meeting, noting Russia’s continued barrage of air attacks.

We’ll continue to push to ensure that Ukraine owns its skies — and can defend its citizens and its civilian infrastructure — far from the frontlines. … The United States and our allies and partners worldwide remain laser-focused on Ukraine’s near-term requirements in Kharkiv and elsewhere.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

Earlier this month, the U.S. announced a $400 million security assistance package for Ukraine containing critical air defense and artillery munitions to meet Ukraine’s top priority requirements.

The latest package was in addition to $7 billion in U.S. military assistance provided to Ukraine following Congress’ passage of President Joe Biden’s national security supplemental budget request in April. 

Collectively, the nations comprising the UDCG have committed more than $95 billion in security assistance to meet Ukraine’s most pressing needs since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., who also briefed reporters at the Pentagon following the meeting of the contact group, said the coalition’s support is not “merely an act of solidarity,” but a “strategic necessity that reinforces broader international security.”

“If unchecked, Russian aggression could embolden other authoritarian regimes to challenge international norms and violate the sovereignty of their neighbors,” he said. “This highlights the importance of a robust and unified response.” 

Austin said that the U.S. and its allies and partners will keep pushing to find “swift solutions” to arm Ukraine. 

In addition to discussions focused on Ukraine’s near-term requirements, the coalition also focused on ensuring the country can defend itself for the long term.  

The UDCG has undertaken initiatives aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s long-term defense through the formation of targeted capability coalitions.   

Thirteen members of the contact group are leading eight separate capability coalitions designed to drive Ukraine’s long-term force development. Those coalitions focus on critical capabilities ranging from air defense to artillery.   

Today’s meeting of the UDCG included updates from the maritime and integrated air-and-missile defense coalitions. 

Taken together, the capabilities are “providing a sturdy, flexible structure to meet Ukraine’s security requirements over the long haul,” Austin said.

Austin and Brown said the U.S. and its allies remain united in their commitment to Ukraine’s enduring security. 

“The outcome in Ukraine is crucial for European security, for global security and for American security,” Austin said. “None of us would want to live in a world where dictators redraw borders by force and launch wars of aggression to try to revive yesterday’s empires. 

“So let me be clear, Ukraine’s partners are united,” he said. “We’re determined. And we’re not going anywhere.”

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