US Defense Secretary Austin Visits Ukraine To Confirm Support
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently arrived in Kyiv in an unannounced visit to announce continued support for Ukraine. Austin met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as Defense Minister Rustem Umerov and Chief of Staff Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi.
In Kyiv, Austin stated that U.S. support for Ukraine’s conflict against Russia would continue “for the long haul.” He also announced that the Pentagon will be sending Ukraine an additional $100 million in weapons from existing stockpiles in the U.S. These stockpiles include artillery and munitions for air defense systems.
Many analysts believe that Russia will try to ruin Ukraine’s infrastructure this winter, as neither side will likely be able to make any significant gains because of the cold. If Russia indeed seeks to destroy Ukraine’s power grid, as they have in the past, Ukraine’s air defenses are vital to keep this from happening.
I came to Kyiv today with an important message – the United States stands with Ukraine, and we are going to be with them for the long haul. pic.twitter.com/4wPE2Jx2tm
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) November 20, 2023
Austin’s surprise visit to Kyiv comes amid ongoing escalations in the Middle East as a result of the Israel-Hamas war. It has been 21 months since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2022. Though much of the world jumped to support Ukraine after this invasion, signs of fatigue have reportedly set in across many countries.
The willingness to supply Ukraine with money and arms has significantly dragged, as a result. Poland and other European countries have recently reduced their support, as they have stated that they need to keep some ammunition and stockpiles in the defense of their own countries and borders.
The outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, and Israel’s conflict in Gaza, has taken the attention away from Ukraine and to the Middle East, according to many analysts. Now, the U.S. has also promised to supply Israel with arms and funds, which some worry could cut into what was being offered to Ukraine.
Some Republicans in Congress have also made it clear that they are opposed to offering Ukraine more money after supplying about $44 billion already. A bill to send more aid to Ukraine was not included in the latest bill passed by Congress to continue to fund the government into 2024. As a result, funds to Ukraine may reach a standstill.
Upon receiving Austin for this surprise visit, President Zelenskyy thanked him, Congress, and the American people for their continued support. He stated that it was “a very important signal” for Ukraine as a whole.