US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that Russia's invasion and atrocities in Ukraine are "indefensible" as Russia has bombed hospitals and left children "traumatized."
"Russia's invasion is indefensible and so are Russian atrocities," Austin said, speaking from Ramstein US Air Base in Germany, where the US is hosting Ukraine-focused defense talks.
"We all start today from a position of moral clarity -- Russia is waging a war of choice to indulge the ambitions of one man.
"Ukraine is fighting a war of necessity to defend its democracy, its sovereignty and its citizens."
Austin explained that the "stakes" of the war reach "beyond Ukraine and even beyond Europe," before calling Russia's invasion "baseless, reckless and lawless."
"It is an affront to the rules-based international order, it is a challenge to free people everywhere. As we see this morning, nations of good will from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression. And that’s the way it should be."
Austin was speaking as part of his visit to Europe alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Austin said his recent trip to Kyiv "reinforced" his "admiration" for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
"Ukraine clearly believes that it can win. And so does everyone here," he said. "Ukraine needs our help to win today and they will still need our help when the war is over."
He added: "My Ukrainian friends, we know the burden that you all carry. And we know, and you should know, that all of us have your back. And that's why we are here today -- to strengthen the arsenal of Ukrainian democracy.
"We are all here because of Ukraine's courage, because of the innocent civilians that have been killed, and because of the suffering that your people still endure. Your country has been ravaged, your hospitals have been bombed, your citizens have been executed, your children have been traumatized."
Some background: Austin and Blinken traveled to Kyiv over the weekend, where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pledge US support in the war and announce that US diplomats would be returning to Ukraine.
On Monday, speaking at a news conference at an undisclosed location in Poland near the Ukrainian border, the top US officials insisted that Russia was failing in its Ukraine incursion, with Austin explicitly saying that the US wants to see Russia's military capabilities weakened.