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Umerov and Austin hold first call, discuss upcoming Ramstein meeting

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 11, 2023 8:32 PM 2 min read
Rustem Umerov sits in the Ukrainian parliament during voting in favour of his nomination as the Ukrainian defence minister in Kyiv on September 6, 2023. (Photo by ANDRII NESTERENKO / AFP) (Photo by ANDRII NESTERENKO/AFP via Getty Images)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and recently-appointed Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov have held their first phone call, the U.S. Defense Department said on Sept. 11.

Austin congratulated Umerov on his appointment and updated him on U.S. security assistance, the Defense Department reported.

Umerov, the former head of the State Property Fund, replaced Oleksii Reznikov as a defense minister on Sept. 6.

Reznikov resigned on Sept. 3 following to two major procurement corruption scandals in the Defense Ministry.

Austin and Umerov exchanged views "on priorities to support Ukraine’s immediate battlefield needs and capability requirements over the long term," according to the U.S. Defense Department.

Umerov said that he briefed Austin on "the recent developments at the front line," and was grateful to the U.S. for its "support and contribution to Ukraine's victory".

He added that he expressed his condolences to his U.S. counterpart on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  

The two also discussed the agenda for the last Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein NATO base in Germany, which will be held on Sept. 19.

The last Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting was held in July. The format coordinates the efforts of the U.S. and its allies to provide military aid to Ukraine.

On Sept. 7, President Volodymyr Zelensky assigned five key priorities to the new defense minister: strengthening the central role of the ministry in the defense sector, putting soldiers as the foremost value, expanding international partnerships, curbing corruption, and reforming the military to NATO standards.

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