November 29, 2018
I appreciate being here today and I understand that you’ve made some good progress, but I did just want to note that I think this MJC comes at a critical moment in Ukraine’s struggle for independence and the development of its military forces.
I think the senior U.S. officials have made our positions clear, I made our position clear earlier at the Naval conference that we conducted here in Kyiv.
The Russian attack on Ukrainian Naval Forces on November 25th was a gross violation of international arms law and basic justice.
The international community has condemned this and will never accept this type of behavior.
And so, I will just say that the events serve as a reminder of the urgency and importance of the work that all of you are doing to strengthen the Ukrainian military.
I would like to thank the MJC Co-Chairs, General Bessarab and General Julazadeh, who is attending his first MJC.
I’d also like to welcome the Swedish and Danish representatives, whom I haven’t had a chance to meet yet. Nice to see you all here and thank you for your contributions. It’s a great sign that participation is expanding.
And from my perspective, communication, access, and transparency with our Ukrainian partners — and with our multinational partners — continues to improve.
A focus on professional military education and non-commissioned officer development will be key to long term success for your reform.
Ukraine’s sustainment capabilities have increased dramatically, which allows us to spend… on new equipment, instead of on payments.
Our assistance reflects our commitment to Ukraine. We expect Ukraine, in turn, to contribute in tangible ways – this includes providing instructors, staff, and infrastructure, as well as institutionalizing lessons learned and doctrinal changes.
As more U.S. equipment arrives, it is critical for Ukraine to abide by end-use assurances and reporting requirements on all items – and I know we’ve talked about this before – especially on sensitive equipment such as Night Vision Devices and the enhanced defense assistance.
I can’t stress how important this is, because future provision of such technically advanced items will depend on the continued adherence to the end-use requirements and I know everybody here understands that.
In the longer term, as we continue to move beyond crisis response phase to a mature, strategic partnership, it is vital that the Ukrainian military continue to provide us a transparent view of its long-term goals, along with clear, prioritized requirements.
Without that vision … we cannot provide appropriate and effective assistance.
Our efforts — I think we would all agree with the choice of creating a robust, enduring, and NATO-interoperable Armed Forces of Ukraine.
It’s not easy, and it’s not going to be easy. Ukraine has to continue to fight for its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the east and south, on land and on sea, and it needs to continue to fight for reforms here in the heart of Ukraine.
Making Ukraine impervious to corruption, increasing transparency, these are security issues for Ukraine, because if an adversary can undermine Ukrainian leaders, or just an individual in a key job, or Ukrainian institutions through corruption — that makes Ukraine vulnerable to its enemies.
We’re glad to see that advisory support from the United States and our Allies will continue in several key areas of the defense sector to assist Ukraine with its reform goals.
I’m pleased also, I have to say not only in my official capacity, but personally, to see forward movement on defense reforms via the Law on National Security defense and proposed legislation on defense procurement.
Reforms in these areas are paramount to the growth of our defense relationship and I would say that also the relationship with NATO and not to speak for any of the other partners around the table, probably for all of you as well.
And I think this is quite a week in the military sector for Ukraine and its partners because the Defense Reform Advisory Board is also meeting in Kyiv this week and we welcome General Dayton in his new role as the American Defense Review Advisor.
Increasing coordination between the Defense Reform Advisory Board and the MJC will ensure that our security assistance reinforces the strategic-level reform taking place.
I am encouraged by the Multinational Joint Commission recommendations, and I firmly believe that together all the people in this room and all the many people who stand behind the people in this room, can help deliver more efficient, modern Armed Forces that can defend Ukraine now and into the future.
So thank you very much, and with that I will close my remarks!