Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Marking One Year Since Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine


Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Marking One Year Since Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

One year ago today, Russia launched an unprovoked and indefensible invasion of its peaceful and democratic neighbor Ukraine—a cruel war of choice that has killed thousands of innocent Ukrainians, forced millions more from their homes, left countless Ukrainians wounded or traumatized, and inflicted tragedy and terror on a sovereign U.N. member state.

Today’s solemn anniversary is an opportunity for all who believe in freedom, rules, and sovereignty to recommit ourselves to supporting Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul—and to recall that the stakes of Russia’s war stretch far beyond Ukraine.

The United States has rallied the world to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable. Under President Biden’s leadership, the United States has committed more than $32 billion in game-changing security assistance to Ukraine over the past year. This includes more than 1,600 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; more than 8,500 Javelin anti-armor systems; 232 howitzers and more than two million rounds of artillery ammunition; 38 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and ammunition; a Patriot air-defense battery; eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) and other key air-defense capabilities; 109 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles; 31 Abrams tanks; and 90 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers. We have done all this with bipartisan backing in Congress and with the proud support of the American people.

The United States has also rallied nations of goodwill from around the planet to condemn Russia’s aggression and rush urgently needed assistance to Ukraine. The engine of our efforts is the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, an extraordinary coalition of some 50 countries that I convene regularly to coordinate support to Ukraine’s defenders. Our allies and partners in the Contact Group have committed more than $20 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including hundreds of tanks, thousands of other armored vehicles, vital air-defense systems, hundreds of artillery systems, and other crucial capabilities.

In response to the most urgent danger to European security since the end of World War II, we have moved swiftly with our allies to further unify and strengthen NATO. The Alliance has bolstered its defenses on the Eastern Flank. Meanwhile, the United States has deployed or extended more than 20,000 additional U.S. forces to Europe and forward-stationed the first permanent U.S. forces on NATO’s Eastern Flank. NATO is more united than ever, and the U.S. commitment to defend every inch of allied territory remains ironclad.

One year into a war of aggression waged by a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, our allies and partners worldwide stand united and resolute. Putin’s reckless, illegal war is not just an all-out assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and a historic threat to European security. It is also a direct attack on the system of rules, institutions, and laws that the world built at such great cost after World War II—a system that rejects aggression and respects the rights of all countries, big and small.

Putin thought that Ukraine’s defenses would collapse, that America’s resolve would falter, and that the world would look the other way. He was wrong. One year later, Ukraine’s brave defenders have not wavered, and neither has our commitment to support them for as long as it takes.

Despite the Kremlin’s campaign of cruelty, the people of Ukraine have shown stunning bravery, skill, and fortitude. Today and every day, we stand by the courageous Ukrainians fighting to defend their country, and we mourn with those who have lost their loved ones in Moscow’s monstrous and unnecessary war.

Difficult times may lie ahead, but let us remain clear-eyed about what is at stake in Ukraine. And let us remain united in purpose and in action—and steadfast in our commitment to ensure that a world of rules and rights is not replaced by one of tyranny and turmoil.