Remarks by Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin at a Media Availability

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY SLOTKIN:  Good afternoon. I would like to thank the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for hosting us today for our Bilateral Defense Policy Consultations, which I co-chaired with the Deputy Minister. These productive high-level talks were an important opportunity to review our defense relationship and set the course for our cooperation into next year and beyond.

In our discussions, we agreed that the global security environment we face today makes our bilateral relationship as important as ever.  Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine challenge our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.  And while the recent general reduction of violence in eastern Ukraine is positive, the United States remains committed, together with our allies, to maintaining pressure on Russia to fulfill all of its Minsk obligations.  The U.S. focus from the start has been on supporting Ukraine at the negotiating table – in cooperation with our allies and partners in Europe and around the world – through our political and economic support, and by increasing our security assistance to their Armed Forces.

During my visit this week, we have talked about U.S. commitment to Ukraine in two ways:  1) support during the current crisis; and 2) looking longer term at assisting Ukraine to become interoperable with NATO forces.  In response to the current crisis, we have committed more than $265 million in equipment and training to help Ukraine better monitor and secure its border, operate more safely and effectively, and maintain its territorial integrity.  U.S. equipment deliveries so far have included Humvees, lightweight counter mortar radar systems, night vision devices, secure radios, body armor, and medical supplies.  And, later this month, Ukraine will receive two counter-artillery radars to help Ukraine defend against rocket and artillery attacks.

We are about to begin the second phase of the U.S. Army’s training program, which started with the Ukrainian National Guard and which will transition to a follow-on training program for Ukrainian MoD forces starting later this month.  This training program will be modeled after the National Guard training effort, with a longer-term goal of building a Ukraine-led, sustainable training capability for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.  The overarching objective, again, will be to establish a self-sustaining Ukrainian training program that will enhance Ukrainian interoperability with NATO forces and to help Ukraine better monitor and secure its border and preserve and enforce its territorial integrity.  And I’m looking forward to visiting the Yavoriv Training Center near Lviv for the closing ceremony of the National Guard training tomorrow.

While the Minister and I reviewed all of our ongoing security assistance programs, the focus of our discussion was on setting priorities for our bilateral security relationship going forward, and charting a course to meet them over the medium- to long-term, meaning in the next three to five years.  We agreed to develop a bilateral partnership plan designed to help Ukraine build its defense capacity, deepen its Euro-Atlantic ties, and strengthen its institutions.

Mr. Minister, let me reaffirm what Secretary Carter said when he hosted Defense Minister Poltorak at the Pentagon in September; that the United States remains committed to the security of the Ukrainian people and to your country’s right to define its own course as a sovereign, democratic nation. And I look forward to building upon the Department’s enduring partnership with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense in the months and years ahead.

Thank you.