U.S. Defense chief Lloyd Austin rallies Europe to help Ukraine fight Russia

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a meeting of ministers of defense at the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, on Tuesday. Photo by Ronald Wittek/EPA-EFE
1 of 5 | U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a meeting of ministers of defense at the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, on Tuesday. Photo by Ronald Wittek/EPA-EFE

April 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rallied about 40 countries to the defense of Ukraine on Tuesday during a summit in Germany, where he condemned Russia's war as "unjust."

The meeting was a coordinated security event that included dozens of leaders from European nations and focused on providing the necessary support for Ukraine, including military armaments.


During the meeting at the U.S. military's Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Lloyd said Ukraine is fighting to save its democracy and promised that the former Soviet republic would not be swallowed up by Russia through an unprovoked war.

"Russia's invasion is indefensible and so are Russian atrocities," Lloyd said. "We all start today from a position of moral clarity.

"Russia is waging a war of choice to indulge the ambitions of one man. Ukraine is fighting a war of necessity to defend its democracy its sovereignty and its citizens."

Austin also announced that meetings of countries to discuss the war in Ukraine will start being held once a month.

"The briefings today laid out clearly why the coming weeks will be so crucial for Ukraine, so we got to move at the speed of war," he said.

"I know that all the leaders leave today more resolved than ever to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and atrocities. And I know that we're all determined to do even more to better coordinate our efforts."

The summit came after Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Kyiv in Ukraine over the weekend. After meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, they detailed some of the new aid the United States will provide to Kyiv. At that meeting, the U.S. officials also said Ukrainian resistance to the Russian war has been a success.


Blinken returned to the United States and testified before the Senate foreign relations committee Tuesday. He told senators he's seen no sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin is serious about negotiating with Ukraine to end the war.

Meanwhile, Poland said Tuesday it delivered tanks to Ukraine and Germany pledged to send anti-aircraft vehicles.

Zelensky has long been pleading with Western nations to send military equipment and munitions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and said Tuesday that Western support for Ukraine could ultimately lead to a nuclear war -- something he insisted that Moscow views as unacceptable. He also accused NATO of fighting a proxy war against Russia through Ukraine.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was scheduled to visit Lavrov and Putin on Tuesday, seeking some sort of resolution, including a possible cease-fire. The U.N. chief is also expected to visit Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday.

In continued fighting in Ukraine on Tuesday, officials in Kyiv reported multiple explosions in the southern port city of Zaporizhzhia, where they had been expecting an attack.

Ukrainian officials added that Russian forces also captured the city council building in Kherson and took control of the eastern city of Kreminna. Russian troops are advancing toward two other cities -- Sloviansk and Kramatorsk -- as part of Moscow's second phase of the war that's focused on the eastern region of Ukraine.


Scenes from Ukraine: Destruction, atrocities and mourning

Priest Andrii Gavalin presides over the funeral of Eugene Bogdanov, 35, in Bucha, Ukraine, on May 10. Bogdanov went missing two months ago. His wife, Natalia Bogdanova, was searching for him throughout the Kyiv and Bucha regions when his body was found at a morgue in Belaya Tserkov on May 9. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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