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‘Putin never imagined’ a global outpouring of support for Ukraine, according to the defense secretary.

Ukraine Under Attack

‘Putin never imagined’ a global outpouring of support for Ukraine, according to the defense secretary.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a group of military leaders in Germany that ’s “resistance has brought inspiration to the free and even greater resolve to NATO,” and that Russian President “never imagined that the world would rally behind so swiftly and surely.”

Austin’s remarks came as the US announced more military aid and plans to reopen its embassy in Kiev, Poland said it would send tanks, and Germany said it would send armored anti-aircraft vehicles.

“All of us have your back,” Austin told Ukraine, following his own trip to Kyiv.

The meeting was attended by senior defense officials from NATO and non-NATO as part of the new Defense Consultative Group. Some countries, such as Israel and Qatar, had representatives at the table despite not being on the official list of attendees. Non-NATO countries like Kenya, Tunisia, and Japan were included as part of an effort to extend substantive and symbolic support for Ukraine beyond Europe and the alliance.

Separate remarks to the group were made by Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who painted a bleak picture of the next phase of the as attempts to seize complete control of southeastern and southern Ukraine. “Time is not on Ukraine’s side,” Milley said behind closed doors to reporters accompanying him. “The outcome of this battle is dependent on the in this room right now.”

World leaders are attempting to put pressure on Putin to end the , which is now in its third month. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who is in Moscow to meet with Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, called for a cease-fire on Tuesday, saying that everything must be done “to end the as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Lavrov set off alarm bells when he said on state television that the risk of the conflict escalating into nuclear is “serious, it is real” — but added that nuclear war is unacceptable to Moscow. Lavrov accused NATO of waging a proxy war by donating weapons to Kiev, and stated that weapons flowing from allies into will be considered a “legitimate target” for ’s military.

The United States’ goals for the meeting were to share a “common understanding” of the current battlefield and Ukrainian defense capabilities and requirements, as well as the capacity of national industrial bases, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, led a delegation from Kyiv, where Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a visit on Sunday.

“That visit only heightened my sense of urgency, which I know we all share,” Austin said at the meeting. He emphasized that he would like “this entire group today to leave with a common and transparent understanding of Ukraine’s near-term security requirements because we’re going to keep moving heaven and earth to meet them.”

Last week, President Biden announced an additional $800 million in weapons aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery and high-tech attack drones for the new battle in the south and southeast. According to US military officials, the Russians, who have retreated to those areas following their failure to take Kyiv, will attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces there in a major ground battle.

“My visit to Kyiv reinforced my admiration for the manner in which the Ukrainian armed forces are deploying” the assistance they are receiving, Austin said in his opening statement. “Ukraine clearly believes it has a chance to win.” “As does everyone else here.”

Milley became more evasive after the reporters had left the room. “The next two, three, four weeks are going to shape the overall outcome of this fight,” he said.

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