Defense Secretary Austin Hosts Ukranian Defense Minister Umerov At The Pentagon

(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Tuesday that the U.S. will soon provide an additional $2.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. This aid will include anti-tank weapons, interceptors, and munitions for Patriot and other air defense systems.

Austin made this announcement during a meeting with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov at the Pentagon. The announcement comes as a direct response to Kyiv’s urgent requests for assistance in battling Russian forces in the Donetsk region.

Austin stated that the aid will be delivered through presidential drawdown authority. This allows the Pentagon to swiftly transfer weapons from its stockpiles to Ukraine.

“Make no mistake, Ukraine is not alone, and the United States will never waver in our support,” Austin emphasized as he opened the meeting with Umerov. “Alongside some 50 allies and partners, we’ll continue to provide critical capabilities that Ukraine needs to push back Russian aggression today and to deter Russian aggression tomorrow.”

The announcement comes just days before the U.S. hosts the NATO summit in Washington. Ukraine has been actively lobbying for both military support and acceptance into the alliance.

“We’ll take steps to build a bridge to NATO membership for Ukraine,” Austin assured Umerov.

“Hopefully soon Ukraine will receive its invitation,” Umerov replied.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported on Sunday that Russia had dropped over 800 powerful glide bombs on Ukraine in the past week alone. He called on world leaders to loosen restrictions on the use of Western weapons to strike military targets inside Russia. Specifically, he highlighted Ukraine’s need for “necessary means to destroy the carriers of these bombs, including Russian combat aircraft, wherever they are.”

While Austin did not directly address these restrictions in his opening statements, he assured Umerov that they would discuss “more ways to meet Ukraine’s immediate security needs and to build a future force to ward off more Russian aggression.”

With this latest $2.3 billion commitment, the U.S. has now provided over $53.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.