By DoD News
By David Vergun
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III welcomed his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, to the Pentagon Thursday reaffirming America’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The leaders discussed a range of security issues, including Russia’s destabilizing actions in the region, and they agreed to work closely together to advance the shared priorities outlined in the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Defense Framework signed on Aug. 31.
“[The] framework created a foundation for strengthening our strategic defense partnership,” Austin said. “I look forward to discussing how we can implement that framework to continue to advance our shared priority to counter Russian aggression and to deepen our cooperation in such areas as Black Sea security, cyber defense and intelligence sharing.”
The secretary reiterated the U.S. commitment to building the capacity of Ukraine’s forces to more effectively defend its sovereign territory.
“We are monitoring closely recent Russian military movements on your borders. And we made clear our concerns about Russia’s destabilizing activities and our desire for more transparency,” Austin said.
To promote regional security, Austin said he will continue to consult with Ukraine, allies and partners in the region on security initiatives.
Austin also encouraged Reznikov to maintain progress on reforms.
“We remain committed to supporting Ukraine’s efforts to implement deepened comprehensive reforms in its defense sector. We know that’s hard work. But doing it is key to Ukraine achieving its Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” the secretary said.
Reznikov thanked Austin for hosting his visit and said he appreciates Ukraine’s strategic relations with the United States and the assistance of the American people in countering Russian aggression.
Ukraine is determined to develop its partnership with the United States, particularly in the area of countering Russian hybrid attacks, Reznikov said.
“In Ukraine, we are well aware that Russia may resort to escalation at any time. We are ready to defend our country and the future of our children. This possible escalation will certainly have catastrophic consequences for the whole of Europe. Whether it will take place depends to a large extent on the unity and determination of the civilized world to stop the aggression,” Reznikov said.