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Pentagon leaders to host Ukraine Contact Group meeting following F-16 announcement

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/24/2023 Mike Brest
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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will convene the twelfth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Thursday.

The U.S. defense leaders are set to meet virtually with defense leaders from roughly 50 countries to discuss Ukraine's latest needs.


"So at this contact group, like the others, it will all start with Ukraine providing an overview of the current security situation there and what their most urgent needs are," Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday. "And so I would expect that ground-based air defense will continue to be a topic of priority discussion, as well ammunition to ensure, again, that -- that they can sustain the fight."

Another topic of discussion will be the training of Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, Ryder added.

President Joe Biden told G-7 leaders in Japan last week that he approved of a plan for a coalition of Western countries to train Ukrainian pilots on the aircraft, with a longer-term goal of providing the fighter jets to them, though details of who will actually provide them with the F-16s will be figured out down the road.

The Secretary of Defense received “several requests from countries” seeking U.S. permission to train Ukrainians on the F-16s following last month’s meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Ryder explained.


“So he subsequently took that matter, introduced it into our national Security Council policy process as part of a conversation about how we support Ukraine in the mid to long term and in terms of their defense needs, and there was unanimous agreement that this was something that we should and need to support," Ryder said. "So prior to the G7, Secretary Austin made the recommendation to proceed with approving allies to train the Ukrainians and transfer that capability.”

Austin previewed the meeting with Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov on Wednesday, which "will focus on sustaining Ukraine’s armored maneuver capabilities and bolstering Ukraine’s air defenses against Russia’s continued brutal attacks," according to a Pentagon readout of their call.

Tags: War in Ukraine, News, Defense, National Security, Department of Defense, Ukraine, Lloyd Austin, Mark Milley

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Pentagon leaders to host Ukraine Contact Group meeting following F-16 announcement


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