The Pentagon chief is in Kyiv on an unannounced visit ‘to stand with Ukraine in their fight for freedom against Russia’.
The United States Secretary of Defence made an unannounced visit to Kyiv to reassure Ukraine that Washington will continue supporting its fight against invading Russian forces.
Lloyd Austin “travelled to Ukraine today to meet with Ukrainian leaders and reinforce the staunch support of the United States for Ukraine’s fight for freedom”, the Pentagon said in a statement on Monday. The trip was not previously announced due to security concerns.
The US has provided tens of billions of dollars in security aid for Ukraine and repeatedly pledged to back Kyiv for as long as it takes. However, opposition from hardline Republican lawmakers has raised doubts about the future of US assistance.
“[Austin] will also underscore the continued US commitment to providing Ukraine with the security assistance it needs to defend itself from Russian aggression,” the Pentagon statement continued.
On X, Austin wrote, “I was honoured to meet with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv today to reaffirm the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine. We, along with our allies and partners, will continue to support Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs and long-term defence requirements.”
Austin’s trip to Ukraine is seen as a bid to calm fears that US support could falter.
Some Republican lawmakers oppose continued aid, and that opposition saw Ukraine left out of a temporary deal that was passed by Congress last week to avert a US government shutdown.