U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed continued support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as part of Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), reported the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
It is noted that, on February 19, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran held a telephone conversation with the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
During the conversation, the parties confirmed the strategic nature of the bilateral relations between Ukraine and the United States in the defense sphere.
"Andrei Taran congratulated his American colleague on his appointment and updated him on the security situation in Ukraine and around its borders. During the conversation, the parties discussed Ukraine’s defense reform and progress in key areas. In turn, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed the continued support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI)," the statement reads.
The Ukrainian Minister of Defense expressed gratitude to the United States for its assistance and participation in strengthening Ukraine's resilience against external threats and promoting its path to full NATO membership.
"We are constantly increasing our compatibility with Alliance forces through technical assistance as well as joint participation in international peacekeeping and security operations. Therefore, Ukraine confirms its intention to continue its participation in NATO operations, in particular in NATO's Resolute Support Mission, NATO's multinational force in Kosovo. Ukraine is preparing to send forces and equipment for NATO Training Mission-Iraq and NATO's Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean," Andrei Taran said.
Lloyd Austin thanked Taran for the continued participation of Ukrainian forces in international operations.
The parties also discussed practical steps to implement Ukraine's status as a NATO’s Increased Opportunities Partner.
Andrei Taran invited the U.S. Secretary of Defense to take part in the festivities on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence.