Defense secretary Lloyd Austin met Tuesday to improve ties with Ukraine amid ongoing fighting between government forces, the Russia-backed separatists and a conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands.
Mr. Austin met with Defense Minister Andriy Taran in Ukraine‘s capital, Kyiv, to offer reassurance of U.S. support for the nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and continue the implementation of a strategic defense framework that was signed at the end of August.
“The United States calls on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea, to stop perpetuating the war in eastern Ukraine, to end its destabilizing activities in the Black Sea and along Ukraine‘s border and to end its persistent cyberattacks and other malign activities against the United States and our allies and partners,” Mr. Austin said in a press conference following the meeting.
A retired four-star Army General, Mr. Austin also praised Ukrainian troops for “continuing to stand up to protect our shared values and core democratic principles .”
U.S. officials and Ukrainian officials discussed progress in implementing defense reforms to help the country achieve its NATO aspirations, and regional cooperation with allies and partners around Black Sea. Officials from defense said that they also discussed Ukraine’s achievements in implementing defense reforms.
Mr. Austin’s stop in Ukraine was the second leg of his tour of the Black Sea region. He travelled to Tbilisi in Georgia on Monday. his second stop was Romania, before he attended a meeting with NATO defense leaders at Belgium.
“The Secretary is looking forward to meeting his counterparts, and other high-ranking officials, to strengthen the United States’ commitment towards a safe and stable Europe,” Pentagon officials stated in a statement.
At the Kyiv press conference, Mr. Austin stated to reporters that Russia was a threat to regional peace. He also said that the U.S. would do everything it can to help the country defend itself and its sovereign territory.
The Biden administration has pledged to provide Ukraine with an additional $60 million in military aid, which would bring the total amount to more than $400 million, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.