Austin, Biden Reaffirm Support for Ukraine Amid Rising Russian Threats

In Paris today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III emphasized the growing dangers posed by an aggressive and expansionist Russia during a meeting with French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu. Austin praised France and other allied nations for their steadfast support of Ukraine’s right to self-defense.

“I’m deeply grateful for France’s contributions to Ukraine’s fight for freedom, and I know that we’ll continue to work together to provide security assistance to our Ukrainian partners,” Austin said. “We’ve also worked together to strengthen NATO.”

Reflecting on the previous day’s D-Day ceremony, Austin shared the emotional experience of meeting veterans who participated in the Normandy landings 80 years ago. “It was very moving to have the chance to again thank the U.S., French, and other Allied veterans of World War II and to reaffirm the principles that they fought for,” he said. “Their service and sacrifice laid the foundation for the rules-based international order that we built together after World War II.”

Separately, Austin and President Joe Biden met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the International Hotel in Paris. The discussions centered on U.S. support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression, addressing the current state of the war and Ukraine’s urgent assistance needs. Biden announced a new $225 million security assistance package for Ukraine, including air defense interceptors, artillery ammunition, and other critical capabilities. This package marks the sixth security assistance initiative since Biden signed the national security supplemental.

The leaders also discussed the upcoming Peace Summit on Ukraine in Switzerland, where Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will represent the United States to support Ukraine’s pursuit of a just and lasting peace in line with the United Nations Charter, emphasizing sovereignty and territorial integrity.

President Biden reiterated the unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine and announced plans to continue discussions at the upcoming G7 Summit in Italy. Following their meeting, Biden, Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., traveled to Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument in Normandy, France.

Biden spoke passionately about the significance of democracy, highlighting the bravery of those who fought on D-Day. “When we talk about democracy — American democracy — we often talk big ideas like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What we don’t talk about enough is how hard it is,” he said. “American democracy asks the hardest of things: to believe that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. So, democracy begins with each of us.”

“As we gather here today, it’s not just to honor those who showed such remarkable bravery that day, June 6, 1944. It’s to listen to the echo of their voices, to hear them. Because they are summoning us. They’re asking us what will we do. They’re not asking us to scale these cliffs. They’re asking us to stay true to what America stands for,” Biden concluded.–News Desk