Pentagon chief pledges Ukraine support in ‘challenging’ months ahead

BRUSSELS — Days of Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian civilian targets represent the “malice and cruelty of Putin’s war of choice” in Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during the opening of a conference of NATO ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.

The meeting is the latest in a series of monthly get-togethers of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a collection of 50 nations committed to arming and supplying Ukrainian forces. The Russian missile strikes have led to a rethinking of some of that aid, pushing air defense to the top of the Ukrainian wish list.

Flanked by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and Chair of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley against a backdrop of Ukrainian and American flags, Austin said the alliance remains as committed to Ukraine as ever, and will continue to flow arms as long as the fight to repel Russian troops continues.

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