NATO chief, US defense secretary reiterate support for Ukraine ahead of ministers meeting

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated their support for Ukraine ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday.

“We still stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes, we will step up our support and in particular we will provide more air defense assistance to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels alongside Austin.

UN vote: Stoltenberg praised the UN General Assembly’s approval Wednesday of a resolution telling Russia its annexation of four Ukrainian zones is illegal and not valid, calling the vote a “clear condemnation of the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories and a clear call on Russian President [Vladimir] Putin to reverse these decisions and respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

“I absolutely agree with you … and I couldn’t have put it better,” Austin said, reiterating that the US will continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

“I want to applaud all of our allies and partners who’ve stepped up to provide assistance to Ukraine,” Austin said. “This alliance is the essential forum for consultation, decision making and action when it comes to security of the region and transatlantic security as well.”

Austin reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to Article 5 — the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members — and to “defending every inch of NATO’s territory.”

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