Press Conference at Sea Breeze 2019 in Odesa, Ukraine
Sunday, July 7, 2019
Dobryi vechir! [Good evening!] I’ve very pleased to be here. Like the Admiral [U.S. Vice Admiral Lisa M. Franchetti] said, some of us come back to Ukraine.
For 19 years, as the Admiral said, Exercise Sea Breeze has been a key pillar for the United States’ partnership with Ukraine.
And the United States is very pleased to continue collaborating with the Ukrainian Navy – and our other European friends – to improve regional cooperation, maritime security, and stability in the Black Sea.
That collaboration continues, and as the Admiral said, the United States is pleased to be able to provide additional equipment. In particular, two Island Class boats from the United States will join the Ukrainian Navy’s fleet within a couple of months.
And I’m very pleased to announce today that Ukraine has requested for the first time the purchase of military equipment through a special U.S. Defense Department program, called the Foreign Military Sales program.
So this is the Ukrainian government purchasing equipment — very important equipment from the United States that will have an effect on deterring Russian aggression.
As the Admiral said, the United States stands firmly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and defense sector reforms.
I want to join the Admiral in remembering that tonight there are 24 Ukrainian [sailors] unjustly detained by Russia. These sailors will always remind us of the danger that sailors face at sea.
Every time we see a ship leave a port — like this ship and the other Ukrainian ships — we know that brave men and women are continuing to stand watch in the face of adversity.
And the United States continues, again, to call on Russia to immediately release Ukrainian sailors, Ukraine’s vessels, and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The United States stands with the people of Ukraine in support of a stable, prosperous, democratic and European, free Ukraine.
Together, we are taking one more step on that path through Sea Breeze 2019.
So I wish you all a successful exercise. Fair winds and following seas.