Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III had a side meeting with some U.S. senators at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, this week.
Austin thanked legislators for their continued support for Ukraine and encouraged passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, who held a press briefing today.
“At a time when the United States faces challenges from China and an acute threat from Russia, it is essential that we have the authorities we need to keep the American people safe, deter adversaries and support a lethal, resilient and healthy joint force,” Singh said.
Singh characterized the fighting in Ukraine as a “dynamic and active battlefield.” She added, “We’re seeing the Ukrainians push back using the weapons and systems that not just we have provided, but that other partners and allies have provided.”
The Defense Department is keenly aware of the Russian bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure using Iranian-sourced drones. The strikes have included the power grid, which targets the Ukraine civilian population with dire consequences as winter approaches, she said.
The department, in consultation with allies, partners and the Ukrainians, have ongoing discussions to address the urgent needs of Ukraine — not just on the battlefield, but also to sustain their own infrastructure, she said.
“We’re seeing Russia being further isolated by reaching out to countries like Iran and North Korea to resupply what they need. It clearly shows their own weakness, and it clearly shows how isolated they’ve become in the world,” she said.
Regarding Turkish airstrikes against Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish positions this week, Singh said the department continues to monitor what is happening on the ground.
Turkey claims the attacks are against terrorist groups responsible for a deadly bombing in Istanbul on Nov. 13.
“We continue to urge for de-escalation. … These strikes from all sides risk our mission, which is to defeat ISIS,” Singh said, referring to the Islamic State.