The online meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine's Defence (Ramstein) has begun. As usual, the meeting is chaired by US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and is attended by about 50 countries.
This is the 17th meeting in this format. Ukraine is represented by Defence Minister Rustem Umerov.
"As you may know, I have recently returned from Kyiv, where I met with President Zelenskyy, Minister Umerov and Gen Zaluzhnyy. I also met with the brave Ukrainian troops who have just returned from the front line," Austin said.
He stressed that his message to Ukrainians is simple: The United States will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
The focus of our support for Ukraine is to help get through the winter and protect critical infrastructure.
"As Ukraine enters its second winter of war, I have assembled this group to provide Ukraine with air defence equipment to protect its people," he said.
According to the US Secretary of Defence, since the establishment of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group (since April 2022), about $80 billion has been raised.
"My message to Putin is that he will not be able to wait it out or win the contest of wills," Austin said.
He added that Russia is seeking support from Iran and North Korea. Leaders of Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel have also visited Moscow. Austin noted that Iran supports the war against Israel and against Ukraine, and this is a global challenge. He stressed that the United States has the ability to help both Ukraine and Israel.
Austin noted that throughout the 20 months of full-scale war, Ukrainians have been bravely defending their country and fighting for freedom. The defence forces have recaptured half of the territories seized by the Russians during the full-scale invasion.