20 countries ‘announced new security assistance programs’ after meeting with Ukraine

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivers opening remarks during a virtual meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon in Washington DC on May 23. (Alex Brandon/AP)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomed more than 40 countries to the second meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, held virtually, May 23, nearly three months to the day since the start. of the war in Ukraine.

Austin thanked defense ministers from the other 40 countries for their participation and highlighted the progress made since the contact group’s first meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany last month, highlighting Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom for the military equipment they have provided to Ukraine since that meeting. .

Since last month’s contact group meeting, Australia and Canada “committed to supplying M777 howitzers, and in just four weeks, all of these systems were delivered to the Ukrainians”, Austin said. The UK has also “delivered sulfur missiles and a new short-range defense system”, and “many countries have made great efforts to mount important new training missions, and we have seen these efforts pay off. real difference in real time,” he added. .

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Representative joined the virtual meeting. Four new countries also joined the meeting that were not present at Ramstein last month: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Ireland and Kosovo.

Austin said he knew the other defense ministers on the call “understand the threat that Russian aggression poses to European security and to the rules-based international order that keeps us all safe.”

“The cause of Ukraine has rallied the free world. Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, more than 40 of our allies and partners around the world have stepped up to provide critical security assistance to help Ukraine defend itself, and today we are honored to ‘having with us defense leaders from 44 countries, as well as representatives from NATO and the EU,’ Austin said.

Today’s contact group meeting “will begin with presentations from Ukraine and U.S. military leaders on the situation on the ground,” said Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, l Ukraine and Eurasia. The first session “will begin with a battlefield update on the current fight, how Ukraine is leveraging international donations and Ukraine’s immediate combat needs”, she added. .

The second session of the meeting will focus on “participating ministers” who will “announce progress on donations” to Ukraine, and the third session will focus “on capacities and coordination with a review of how we meet Ukraine’s priority requirements and an overview of the international deconfliction and coordination cell and updates by ministers,” Cooper added.

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