U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Thursday spoke by phone with Ukrainian Minister of Defence Andrii Taran to discuss the regional security situation amid a rise of Russian-backed separatist aggression in eastern Ukraine.
“I had a productive call with Ukrainian Minister of Defence Andrii Taran today,” he said on Twitter.
Secretary also said that they discussed regional security, and he reaffirmed U.S. unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
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He condemned recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine and offered condolences to Minister Taran on the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers on March 26.
Secretary Austin reiterated the U.S. commitment to building the capacity of Ukraine’s forces to defend more effectively against Russian aggression. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including a recently announced $125 million package that featured defensive weapons and other key capabilities to enhance the lethality, command and control, and situational awareness of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
Minister Taran expressed gratitude for the open dialogue and continued support.