US will remain with war-torn Ukraine for ‘long haul’: Pentagon chief

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday (Nov 20) that Washington’s support for Kyiv was for the long haul. “The message that I bring you today, Mr President, is that the United States of America is with you, we will remain with you for the long haul,” Austin told Zelensky as he paid a visit to Kyiv to reassure Ukraine on US support in its fight against Russia.

In a statement, the Pentagon said that Austin visited Ukraine to meet “with Ukrainian leaders and reinforce the staunch support of the United States for Ukraine’s fight for freedom.”

“He will also underscore the continued US commitment to providing Ukraine with the security assistance it needs to defend itself from Russian aggression,” the statement added. This was Austin’s second trip to Ukraine since Russia launched an offensive last year.

Austin also told Zelensky that under his leadership, Ukraine defended its sovereignty and has fought valiantly. 

“You (Zelensky) have led the Ukrainian people to do things that were unimaginable to most people from the very beginning. And so we’ve seen grit, ingenuity. We’ve seen courage on the part of the Ukrainian people that has really impressed the world,” he added.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the US has provided tens of billions of dollars in security aid for Ukraine and repeatedly pledged to back Kyiv for “as long as it takes.”

However, hardline Republican lawmakers have opposed this assistance.

Till now, the US has been the biggest donor of military assistance to Kyiv, and a cut to American aid would be a major blow to Ukraine as it is preparing for the second winter of the war.

Last month, Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged lawmakers to sustain support for Ukraine, with the US defence chief said that without Washington’s support, Russian President Vladimir Putin would be successful. 

Apart from the Ukraine, the US has also insisted that it can provide assistance to Israel in its intensifying conflict against Hamas. 

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