'Free world will not let Ukraine fail,' says US defence chief

Ukrainian army tanks exercise as soldiers check the readiness of equipment for combat deployment, at a military base in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2023.
Ukrainian army tanks exercise as soldiers check the readiness of equipment for combat deployment, at a military base in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2023. Copyright Kateryna Klochko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Germany's defence minister said Berlin will also provide ammunition to Ukraine totalling €500 million.

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US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has vowed the US will continue to support Ukraine's war effort against Russia, even funding for Kyiv stalls in Congress. 

“The United States will not let Ukraine fail,” said Austin. “This coalition will not let Ukraine fail. And the free world will not let Ukraine fail.”

He made the comments during an address to more than 50 defence leaders from Europe and the world at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Leaders from other nations promised new aid for Ukraine at the event. 

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters Germany will provide ammunition, plus armoured and transport vehicles worth around €500 million.

“We are helping Ukraine with what it needs most in its defence against Russian aggression,” Pistorius said.

Asked whether he still sees Washington as a reliable ally amid the ongoing delay in funding approval by Congress, Pistorius said: “I have no doubt about the reliability of the Americans.”

The $300 million (€277 million) US aid package was the first tranche of weapons sent by the Biden administration since December, as battlefield conditions in Ukraine grow increasingly dire. 

US officials maintain bipartisan support exists for the package, but several Republicans oppose it. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote.

Tuesday marks the 20th meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, a key organisation coordinating the delivery of weapons and other aid to Ukraine.

In his opening remarks, Austin said Russia has paid a “staggering cost” for the war, repeating estimates that at least 315,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in the war, which has cost Moscow up to €194 billion.

“Ukraine’s troops face harsh conditions and hard fighting. And Ukraine’s civilians endure a constant barrage of Russian missiles and Iranian drones,” said Austin. “But Ukraine won’t back down. And neither will the United States.”

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