“Minister Reznikov and I have been in close contact about changes on the battlefield and we're working in lockstep to meet Ukraine's requests for new capabilities, especially its need for long-range fires, armor and coastal defense. To help Ukraine defend itself, the United States has provided it with howitzers and Javelins and huge amounts of ammunition, UAVs, Mi-17 helicopters, counter-artillery radars, tactical vehicles and electronic jamming equipment. Along with our partners, we're also training Ukrainian forces on new capabilities, and we're committed to doing even more,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in his opening remarks at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Meeting in Brussels, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
According to the Pentagon chief, Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield. As President Zelensky warned, Russia has shifted its focus to Donbas after failing to take Kyiv.
“We can't underestimate the challenge that Ukraine faces. Russia is using its long-range fires to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions, and Russia continues to indiscriminately bombard Ukraine's sovereign territory and recklessly endanger Ukrainian civilians. So we must intensify our shared commitment to Ukraine's self-defense and we must push ourselves even harder to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself, its citizens and its territory,” Austin said.
The U.S. Secretary of Defense warned against making mistake about the nature of this conflict. Russia's unprovoked and indefensible invasion isn't just a danger to Ukraine; it's a menace to European security and it's an affront to the rules-based international order.
“We must continue to rise to meet this challenge. Ukraine's soldiers and citizens are doing just that, and they are defending their homeland with resolve, grit and ingenuity, and they've inspired us all and they need our help,” the Pentagon chief stressed.
He noted that the US was providing Ukraine's defenders with HIMARS and multiple launch rocket systems, and that would significantly boost Ukraine's capabilities, especially when combined with additional donations of NATO-standard rocket systems from the U.K. and our other allies.
“Allies are providing harpoon launchers and missiles to bolster Ukraine's coastal defense, and the U.K. is providing M270 multiple launch rocket system and training to help Ukraine defend its territory in the Donbas. And several of our allies and partners are providing howitzers and artillery ammunition and Ukrainian forces are now using that to defend the Donbas. And meanwhile, other forms of military assistance from tanks to helicopters continue to flow into Ukraine,” Austin added.
He stressed that by working together, the members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Meeting can help Ukraine defend itself from Russia's cruel assault and strengthen Ukraine's security for the long haul.
“And we can rally together to show that rules in fact do matter and that might does not make right,” the U.S. Secretary of Defense summed up.