Ukraine's survival in danger, Pentagon chief warns

March 20, 2024 12:53 pm

[Source: Reuters]

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday warned that Ukraine’s survival was in danger and sought to convince allies that the United States was committed to Kyiv, even as Washington has essentially run out of money to keep arming Ukrainian forces.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson is refusing to call a vote on a bill that would provide $60 billion more for Ukraine and the White House is scrambling to find ways to send assistance to Kyiv, which has been battling Russian forces for more than two years.

Austin is leading the monthly meeting known as the Ukraine defense contact group (UDCG), held at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, of about 50 allies that have supported Ukraine.

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“Today, Ukraine’s survival is in danger and America’s security is at risk,” Austin told a press conference after the meeting.

“I leave here today fully determined to keep U.S. security assistance and ammunition flowing. And that’s a matter of survival and sovereignty for Ukraine and it’s a matter of honor and security for America,” he added.

Austin, who is traveling for the first time this year since prostate cancer treatment, did not say how Washington would support Ukraine without additional funding.

Officials say the lack of funding available is already having an impact on the ground in Ukraine, where Russian troops are advancing and Ukrainian forces are having to manage scarce resources.

“I think our allies are acutely aware of our funding situation and the Ukrainians more so than anyone because of the shortages that are resulting from us not being able to supply them,” a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to allies on Tuesday to supply more air defences, saying Russia had launched 130 missiles, more than 320 attack drones and almost 900 guided bombs in attacks this month alone.