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Austin meets new German Defense Minister ahead of contact group gathering
By Jim Garamone
Published January 19, 2023; 9:40 p.m.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with newly appointed German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin today to discuss Russia's war with Ukraine and NATO issues and to chart the path forward for a bilateral U.S.-German defense relationship.

k loader for ukraine
Senior Airman Jaden Martin, a ramp operation specialist with the 436th Aerial Port Squadron, maneuvers a K-loader during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Jan. 13, 2023. The Department of Defense is providing Ukraine with critical capabilities to defend against Russian aggression. Image by Air Force Airman 1st Class Amanda Jett

The secretary also met with Wolfgang Schmidt, the federal minister for special affairs at the German Chancellery, an agency serving the executive office of the chancellor.

Austin met Pistorius just a few minutes after the defense minister officially assumed the job. Austin has a long history with the country, serving in then-West Germany in the 1970s.

"Germany remains one of our most important allies," he said.

Austin publicly expressed his sorrow over the death of Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and more than a dozen others in a helicopter crash near Kyiv.

Austin said that Germany has been a steadfast ally in this turbulent time for Europe. "Throughout the crisis caused by Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Germany has remained a true friend of the United States and a staunch defender of our allies and values," he said.

He said the United States and Germany will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they resist Russian aggression and defend their sovereign territory.

Pistorius said that Germany would support Ukraine's fight against the Russian invaders alongside its allies.

Austin noted that Germany has already delivered critical capabilities and supplies to the Ukrainian military, saying the aid is "invaluable."

Beyond that, Austin also mentioned his appreciation of Germany's strong support "for our increased presence and for logistical operations to quickly move soldiers and equipment to and through Germany to reinforce our eastern flank allies."

The secretary previewed the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, tomorrow. There are approximately 50 nations involved in the group and this will be the first meeting of the group in 2023. "We'll renew our united commitment to support Ukraine's self-defense for the long haul," he said.


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