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Pentagon: Next Ramstein-format summit to be held on Jan. 23

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 16, 2024 10:00 PM 2 min read
Defense Minister Rustem Umerov and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the 15th Ramstein summit on Sept. 19, 2023 (Rustem Umerov / Twitter)
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The next Ramstein-format summit of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) will be held on Jan. 23, Pentagon Press Secretary Major General Pat Ryder said on Jan. 16.

The UDCG is comprised of over 50 countries, including all 31 NATO members, and has been meeting regularly since April 2022 to coordinate military support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.

The announcement came after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov talked on the phone on Jan. 16 about the upcoming summit and other battlefield updates.

The previous meeting was held virtually in late November. The U.S. has since made no progress on resolving the ongoing dispute within the legislative branch about approving further aid for Ukraine.

Senate Republicans blocked $61.4 billion in support for Ukraine in December, largely over domestic political disputes. Negotiations have continued, but both Republicans and Democrats have mostly dug in their heels on domestic border policy, which has become tied to aid for Ukraine.

Austin has also become embroiled in his own political scandal. He was rushed to the hospital on Jan. 1 after experiencing extreme pain following a surgery he had the previous week to remove his prostate.

He went into the intensive care unit the following day, which the White House was not informed of for three days. Austin also neglected to say for over a month that he had been diagnosed with cancer, which was related to prostate removal.

The defense secretary has since been released from the hospital and is reportedly in good condition, but the concealing of his stay in the ICU was considered a serious breach of protocol. There have been calls for his resignation.

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“I appreciate your willingness to hear answers to really important questions. When will the war end? Is the third world war possible? Is it time to negotiate with Putin?” Zelensky said in his opening words.
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