US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomed more than 40 countries to the second Ukraine Contact Group meeting, held virtually, on May 23, almost three months to the day since the war in Ukraine began.
Austin thanked the defense ministers from the other 40 nations for attending and highlighted the progress made since the first contact group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany last month, spotlighting Australia, Canada and the UK for military equipment they have provided to Ukraine since that meeting.
Since last month’s contact group meeting, Australia and Canada “committed to providing M777 Howitzers, and in just four weeks, all those systems have been delivered to the Ukrainians,” Austin said. The UK also “delivered brimstone missiles and a new short-range defense system,” and “many countries have pushed hard to stand up important new training missions, and we’ve watched these efforts make a real difference in real time,” he added.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, the deputy commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces and Ukraine’s defense intelligence representative joined the virtual meeting. Four new countries also joined the meeting who were not in attendance at Ramstein last month: Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Ireland and Kosovo.
Austin said he knows the other defense ministers on the call “understand the threat that Russian aggression poses to European security and to the rules-based international order that keeps us all secure.”
“Ukraine’s cause has rallied the free world. Since Russia’s invasion on the 24th of February more than 40 of our allies and partners from around the globe have stepped up to provide critical security assistance to help Ukraine defend itself, and today we’re honored to have defense leaders from 44 countries with us, as well as representatives from NATO and the EU,” Austin said.
Today’s contact group meeting will “begin with presentations by Ukraine and US military leadership on the situation on the ground,” Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, said. Session one will “begin with a battlefield update on the current fight, how Ukraine is leveraging international donations, and Ukraine’s immediate combat requirements,” she added.
Session two of the meeting will focus on “participating ministers” who “will announce progress made on donations,” to Ukraine, and session three will focus “on capabilities and coordination with a review of how we are meeting Ukraine’s priority requirements and overview of the international deconfliction and coordination cell and updates by ministers,” Cooper added.