Opening Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the 15th Ukraine Defense Contact Group (As Delivered)
Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us for the 15th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. And it’s great to see both new and familiar faces here today. And I want to start with a word of thanks to Oleksii Reznikov for his hard work and dedication—and for everything that he did for a free Ukraine in a secure world. I’d like to welcome Ukraine’s new Minister of Defense, Rustem Umerov. And Rustem, it’s great to have you here. I thoroughly enjoyed our call a couple of days ago, and certainly enjoyed the meeting we just concluded. I look forward to working with you and your team closely. And I know that everyone else here does as well. Now, even as we’re meeting here, Ukrainian troops are in a hard fight to reclaim their sovereign territory from dug-in Russian invaders. Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues to make steady forward progress. And brave Ukrainian troops are breaking through the heavily fortified lines of Russia’s army of aggression. Ukraine’s progress is a testament to the fighting spirit of its people. But Ukraine’s recent gains also hinge on the crucial capabilities provided by the members of this Contact Group. And our shared commitment will be vital during the current battles—and for the long road ahead.
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