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Austin, Zelenskyy call on contact group to redouble efforts
By Jim Garamone, DOD
Published January 20, 2023; 1:43 p.m.

secretary of defense lloyd austin III

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III delivers remarks during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Jan. 20, 2023. Image by DOD video still

Now is not the time to slack off. Now is the time to dig deep and aid Ukraine in its existential struggle against Russian invaders, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group today.

The eighth meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, brought together representatives from more than 50 nations and organizations to determine the best way to get the military capabilities that Ukraine needs to repel Russian forces from their sovereign territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the contact group as the meeting opened and the delegates received a briefing from Ukrainian military officials on the situation on the ground and what they believe they need to continue operations.

It is the first time Zelenskyy addressed the contact group and he thanked the assembled delegates for their efforts. He said their military capabilities are already making a difference on the frontlines in Ukraine.

"But do we have a lot of time," the president asked. "No. Terror does not allow for discussion. The terror which burns city after city becomes insolent when I tell that defenders of freedom run out of weapons against it. The war started by Russia does not allow delays."

The president called on the contact group to speed up deliberations. "I'm truly grateful to all of you for the weapons you have provided," he said. "Every unit helps to save our people from terror, but time remains a Russian weapon."

Zelenskyy stressed he was speaking to them as ministers of defense. He said they defend "everything that makes our world free, civilized."

He said the ministers serve a world that values freedom and asked them to remember "the world your parents dreamed of for you. And I'm addressing those who themselves dream of a certain world for their children. It is time now to protect those dreams."

"People who dream, that freedom will be protected for Ukraine for all of Europe for each and every coalition country," Zelenskyy said. "It is about people who believe that evil and hatred will always lose. The Kremlin must lose."

Austin, who chairs the Contact Group, began the meeting detailing the latest tranche of weapons and supplies the United States is pledging to Ukraine. This is a $2.5 billion set of equipment and ammunition that brings the total U.S. contribution to the effort to $26.7 billion since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24, 2022.

"Our new package provides even more air defense capabilities to help Ukraine defend its cities and its skies," he said.

This includes new National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, and eight Avenger air-defense systems.

The assistance package also helps address Ukraine’s need for armor and combat vehicles, the secretary said. "We’re providing 59 more Bradleys, 90 Strykers, 53 and 350 Humvees," he said. The package also restocks Ukraine’s need for artillery and ammunition.

secretary of defense lloyd austin III

Airmen load pallets of ammunition onto a C-17 Globemaster III bound for Ukraine during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 9, 2022. The Defense Department is continuing to provide Ukraine with critical capabilities to defend against Russian aggression under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Image by Air Force Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee

"The United States remains determined to lead — and to do our part to help Ukraine defend itself," he said.

And so it is with democracies around the world. Austin said the unity demonstrated by the 50 countries that have stepped up to aid Ukraine demonstrates the resolve to defend small nations from the aggressions of the large nations, basing that defense on the international rules-based order that has served the globe so well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his cruel invasion and expected a quick and easy victory against an unprepared foe. He expected the world would ignore his blatant power grab. "But Putin didn’t count on the courage of the Ukrainian people," Austin said. "He didn’t count on the skill of the Ukrainian military. And he didn’t count on you -- on everyone on-screen and around this table," he said, addressing the assembly.

Eleven months into the conflict, the combat has changed. Ukraine repelled the initial Russian push to try and take Kyiv. They launched counterattacks that saved Kharkiv and pushed the Russians out of Kherson. The fighting continues in the Donbass region, with Russian forces reliving the troglodyte combat of World War I with thousands of casualties for every inch of gain.

"We need to keep up our momentum and resolve," the secretary said. "We need to dig even deeper. This is a decisive moment for Ukraine — and a decisive decade for the world. So make no mistake: We will support Ukraine’s self-defense for as long as it takes."

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is greeted upon arrival to the Ministry of Defense in Berlin by German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and Ambassador Amy Gutmann Jan 19, 2023. Image by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders

It is a worldwide effort and Austin noted Poland’s efforts in "providing armored vehicles, in training Ukrainian forces and in providing shelter for Ukrainian refugees. "Our German hosts have announced that they will also provide a Patriot air-defense system for Ukraine, complementing our own Patriot contribution. Germany will also donate Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles for Ukraine," he said. "Last week, Canada announced that it would provide a NASAMS air-defense system to Ukraine. That’s a major investment in Ukraine’s ability to defend its skies."

He noted that France is also turning over AMX-10 light tanks to Ukraine and that many European nations are involved in helping train Ukrainian forces.

"This is a crucial moment," Austin said. "Russia is regrouping, recruiting and trying to re-equip. This is not a moment to slow down: It’s a time to dig deeper. The Ukrainian people are watching us. The Kremlin is watching us. And history is watching us."

Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine
January 20, 2023

In total, the United States has more than $27.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including more than $26.7 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24, 2022.

United States security assistance committed to Ukraine includes:

• Over 1,600 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
• Over 8,500 Javelin anti-armor systems;
• Over 50,000 other anti-armor systems and munitions;
• Over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
• 160 155mm Howitzers and up to 1,094,000 155mm artillery rounds;
• Over 5,800 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds;
• 10,200 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems;
• 100,000 rounds of 125mm tank ammunition;
• 45,000 152mm artillery rounds;
• 20,000 122mm artillery rounds;
• 50,000 122mm GRAD rockets;
• 72 105mm Howitzers and 370,000 105mm artillery rounds;
• 298 Tactical Vehicles to tow weapons;
• 22 Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment;
• 30 ammunition support vehicles;
• 38 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition;
• 30 120mm mortar systems and approximately 166,000 120mm mortar rounds;
• 10 82mm mortar systems;
• 10 60mm mortar systems;
• 2,590 Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
• 545,000 rounds of 25mm ammunition;
• Ten Command Post vehicles;
• One Patriot air defense battery and munitions;
• Eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) and munitions;
• Missiles for HAWK air defense systems;
• RIM-7 missiles for air defense;
• 12 Avenger air defense systems;
• High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs);
• Precision aerial munitions;
• 4,000 Zuni aircraft rockets;
• 20 Mi-17 helicopters;
• 45 T-72B tanks;
• 109 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles;
• Over 1,700 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs);
• Over 100 light tactical vehicles;
• 44 trucks and 88 trailers to transport heavy equipment;
• 90 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers;
• 300 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers;
• 250 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles;
• 580 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs);
• Six armored utility trucks;
• Mine clearing equipment and systems;
• Over 13,000 grenade launchers and small arms;
• Over 111,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
• Over 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets;
• Approximately 1,800 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
• Laser-guided rocket systems;
• Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
• 15 Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Systems;
• Two radars for Unmanned Aerial Systems;
• Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels;
• Over 50 counter-artillery radars;
• Four counter-mortar radars;
• 20 multi-mission radars;
• Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems and equipment;
• Counter air defense capability;
• Ten air surveillance radars;
• Two harpoon coastal defense systems;
• 58 coastal and riverine patrol boats;
• M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
• C-4 explosives, demolition munitions, and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing;
• Obstacle emplacement equipment;
• Tactical secure communications systems;
• Four satellite communications antennas;
• SATCOM terminals and services;
• Thousands of night vision devices, surveillance systems, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders;
• Commercial satellite imagery services;
• Explosive ordnance disposal equipment and protective gear;
• Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment;
• 100 armored medical treatment vehicles;
• Over 350 generators;
• Medical supplies to include first aid kits, bandages, monitors, and other equipment;
• Electronic jamming equipment;
• Field equipment, cold weather gear, and spare parts;
• Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.

The United States also continues to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with additional capabilities to defend itself.


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