Remarks by Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe

GENERAL HODGES: General Pushnyakov, Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for the opportunity to be part of this ceremony today. The soldiers that you see in front of you, the equipment that has been provided, the radar, the investment of time and resources into this training center all are a manifestation of the commitment of our countries to the security of Ukraine. These Canadian soldiers and Lithuanian soldiers are all veterans, and they’ve all been picked to come help be a part of the training here.

I’m obviously very proud of our paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade. They’re one of the best and most famous units in the entire United States Army. And they are famous for their sergeants — the noncommissioned officers that are so important to help an army in a democratic society be successful. So you NCOs and Sky Soldiers, I have very high expectations of you, as does everyone else here.

I’m also proud of the California National Guard. California is a state partner with Ukraine, and so the commander of the JMTG-U is from the California National Guard.  So General Beevers and all the California Guardsmen, thank you very much. This is essential for our success what California is contributing

Yesterday I had the chance to visit Ukrainian soldiers going through training on the Q-36 radar. This radar is such a great piece of equipment, and in the hands of a well-trained unit it will significantly improve the ability to save lives of Ukrainian soldiers. I was very impressed with the young men that I met last night.  Every one of them was a veteran. They are learning very quickly and I think they are going to be very effective.

I also want to say that I am very pleased and proud that several staff from the United States Congress are here today also. The relationship between the U.S. military and the Congress is very important and it comes from our Constitution. The fact that they are here reflects the interest that the U.S. Congress has in the mission here and their support for Ukraine.  But they are also here to make sure that we, the United States Army, are making proper use of the resources that the Congress has provided us to help Ukraine. So the trust and the transparency between the U.S. military and the U.S. Congress is also an essential part of what we’re doing.

And so in that same vein the Honorable Oksana Syroid who is here, the Deputy Chair of the Rada, I would also like to welcome to her, and thank you for being here.

The last thing I want to say is that Ukraine can be sure that the United States will not be distracted by what Russia is doing in Syria or anywhere else. We welcome Russian support against IS in Syria, but we will not be distracted that they still occupy Crimea. All 28 nations of NATO agreed at the Wales Summit that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea is unacceptable in the 21st Century. So we call on Russia to allow the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to do its job — to monitor the implementation of the Minsk Agreement.

So to all the soldiers standing here: you’re on an important task, and I appreciate the service that each of you has given on behalf of your country.

Slava Ukraini!