Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Kyiv on Monday to meet with Ukrainian leaders and assure them of the United States’ support in the war with Russia.
While speaking with members of Ukraine’s Defense Department, Austin commended those who have put up a strong fight against Russia.
“When you think back at the beginning of this, nobody thought that Ukraine could survive for more than a week. So here we are much later,” he said, as reported by Reuters.
“Now, everybody’s wondering why Ukraine hadn’t overpowered Russia, which is a much bigger country with a lot more capability. But just think about that shift in mindset.”
Austin also met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reinforce previous commitments that the U.S. would continue supporting Ukraine.
“The message that I bring you today, Mr. President, is the United States of America is with you,” Austin told Zelenskyy, according to CNN.
“We will remain with you for the long haul. What happened here in Ukraine — that not only matters to Ukraine but it matters to the rest of the world. It certainly matters to the United States of America.”
Zelenskyy thanked Austin for making the trip, saying that it was “a very important signal for Ukraine,” according to the Associated Press.
The Defense Secretary and Ukrainian military officials are also set to meet on December 6 and 7 during a joint military conference aimed at increasing Ukraine’s domestic arms production, per Reuters.
Before Monday’s unannounced visit to Ukraine, Austin called upon Congress to provide more support to the embattled nation. After the U.S. Senate voted to pass an economic bill to avoid a government shutdown, Austin urged Congress to “take up and pass supplemental funding to strengthen our national security as soon as possible.”
“Our supplemental request directly supports our allies and partners, including Israel and Ukraine, during a critical period and makes key investments in our defense industrial base across the country. These investments will mean greater prosperity at home and greater security abroad,” stated the Defense Secretary.
Despite the support offered by U.S. officials, a recent poll revealed that a decreasing number of Americans believe the U.S. should continue to send military support to the country.
The poll, conducted by Reuters/Ipsos over a two-day period, found that just 41% of Americans agree with the statement that the U.S. “should provide weapons to Ukraine,” as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
However, Fred Kagan, a senior resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, disagreed and said that the “cost of cutting off aid is that Russia wins and Ukraine loses and NATO loses.”
“If we stop providing aid to Ukraine, it’s not that the stalemate continues. The aid is actually essential to preventing the Russians from beginning to maneuver again in ways that can allow them to defeat Ukraine,” he said, per AP.