US Defense Secretary Austin spoke at a joint press conference with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley in Germany after the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Meeting.

Stating that a highly successful meeting was held at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Austin said, "This is our 15th meeting and I am always amazed by the commitment of the nearly 50 countries represented here to help Ukraine defend itself."

Austin said that the Ukrainian Defense Minister attended the meeting for the first time and that he looked forward to welcoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the Pentagon on September 21.

Commending Ukrainian forces for making steady progress in a difficult fight, Austin said, "We are intensely focused on our near-term support to Ukraine's brave warriors. We are working with Ukraine's leaders to plan for its long-term defense and deterrence. The United States, along with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to support a free and sovereign Ukraine. So far, the United States and Ukraine's global partners have provided more than $76 billion in direct security assistance."

Austin said the United States will continue to work closely with Ukraine to ensure that assistance is effectively used and protected.

Referring to the military equipment assistance to Ukraine, Austin pointed out that existing air defense capabilities protect civilians in Ukraine.

Austin emphasized that in the past, Russia has organized attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, while Ukraine has "heroically" protected its infrastructure and maintained its global grain exports.

Stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack on Ukraine, Austin said that the Kremlin sent thousands of its own citizens to their deaths.

"The world will never accept the idea that the imperial ambitions of tyrants and despots should outweigh the sovereign rights of United Nations (UN) member states," Austin said, adding that Putin was trying to buy time but was wrong and time was not on his side.