U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said they will do all they can to support Ukraine during its war with Russia, but what the end of the conflict “looks like will be defined … by the Ukrainians and not by us.”
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The comments came following the second meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group on Monday, hosted by Austin.
The group is composed of nations dedicated to aiding Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
“Some 20 countries that announced new security assistance packages,” said Austin. “Many countries are donating critically needed artillery ammunition, coastal defense systems and tanks and other armored vehicles. Others came forward with new commitments for training Ukraine’s forces and sustaining its military systems.”
Austin first convened the group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany last month.
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“We want to continue to support Ukraine … defending their country,” said Milley. “We want to make sure NATO’s unified. We want to uphold the concept that there’s a rules based international order and the and the powerful and the big can’t just destroy and invade the weak and the small.”
Austin and Milley also reiterated that the U.S. policy regarding Taiwan has not changed.
This comes after President Joe Biden said Monday the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan, declaring the commitment to protect the island is “even stronger” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was one of the most forceful presidential statements in support of Taiwan’s self-governing in decades.
Biden, at a news conference in Tokyo, said “yes” when asked if he was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if China invaded. “That’s the commitment we made,” he added.
The U.S. traditionally has avoided making such an explicit security guarantee to Taiwan, with which it no longer has a mutual defense treaty, instead maintaining a policy of “strategic ambiguity” about how far it would be willing to go.
The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which has governed U.S. relations with the island, does not require the U.S. to step in militarily if China invades, but makes it American policy to ensure Taiwan has the resources to defend itself and to prevent any unilateral change of status by Beijing.
A White House official said Biden’s comments did not reflect a policy shift for the United States.