Ukraine, US defence ministers to hold talks


Ukraine’s Defence Minister Rustem Umerov will hold talks with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin on firming up military co-operation between the countries, the Pentagon says.

“Secretary Austin and Minister Umerov will discuss bilateral defence co-operation, regional security issues and ways to strengthen the defence partnership between the United States and Ukraine,” deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said at a press briefing, according to a transcript on the US Department of Defence website.

The talks scheduled for Tuesday in Washington come after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy renewed his plea to Kyiv’s allies over the weekend for more weapons after a Russian air strike in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region killed seven people.

The US is the largest provider of military assistance to Ukraine in the war that Russia launched against its smaller neighbour with a full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Lloyd Austin and Rustem Umerov
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (L) and his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov will meet in the US. (AP PHOTO)

US President Joe Biden’s administration has provided Ukraine with more than $US50 billion ($A75 billion) in military aid since 2022.

Last week, the administration said it would provide Ukraine with $US150 million ($A225 million) worth of weapons and ammunition, including HAWK air defence interceptors and 155mm artillery munitions

“The sooner the world helps us deal with the Russian combat aircraft launching these bombs, the sooner we can strike – justifiably strike – at Russian military infrastructure, military airfields, the closer we will be to peace,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address over the weekend.

But after two years of Kyiv’s asking allies for F-16 fighter jets to help it fight Russian forces, the planes are yet to arrive.

Singh declined to answer at the briefing when Ukraine would start receiving the jets, but said the training of Ukrainian pilots on how to operate the planes is “ongoing”.