Europe now faces new dangers from an aggressive and expansionist Russia, said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III today during a meeting with French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu in Paris.

France, the United States and other nations of goodwill have come together to defend Ukraine’s right to self-defense, Austin said. 

“I’m deeply grateful for France’s contributions to Ukraine’s fight for freedom, and I know that we’ll continue to work together to provide security assistance to our Ukrainian partners,” the secretary said. “We’ve also worked together to strengthen NATO.”

Austin also remarked on yesterday’s D-Day ceremony, where he met some of the veterans who landed in Normandy 80 years ago. 

“It was very moving to have the chance to again thank the U.S., French, and other Allied veterans of World War II and to reaffirm the principles that they fought for. Their service and sacrifice laid the foundation for the rules-based international order that we built together after World War II,” Austin said. 

Separately, Austin and President Joe Biden met today with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the International Hotel in Paris.

The three leaders discussed U.S. support for Ukraine in its efforts to defend against Russian aggression. The leaders discussed the state of the war and Ukraine’s urgent assistance needs.

The president announced a new package of security assistance for Ukraine, which is valued at $225 million and includes air defense interceptors, artillery ammunition and other critical capabilities.  

This is the sixth security assistance package announced by the United States since Biden signed the national security supplemental, demonstrating the rapid pace of U.S. assistance for Ukraine.  

The leaders also discussed the upcoming Peace Summit on Ukraine in Switzerland, where Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will represent the United States in support of Ukraine’s pursuit of a just and lasting peace in line with the United Nations Charter, including the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

The president emphasized that U.S. support for Ukraine is unwavering. The leaders committed to meet again at the upcoming G7 Summit in Italy to continue their discussions. 

Later today, Biden, Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., traveled to Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument in Normandy, France.

“When we talk about democracy — American democracy — we often talk big ideas like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What we don’t talk about enough is how hard it is,” Biden said. 

“American democracy asks the hardest of things: to believe that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. So, democracy begins with each of us,” the president said. 

“As we gather here today, it’s not just to honor those who showed such remarkable bravery that day, June 6, 1944. It’s to listen to the echo of their voices, to hear them. Because they are summoning us. They’re asking us what will we do. They’re not asking us to scale these cliffs. They’re asking us to stay true to what America stands for,” Biden said.

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