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US Defense Secretary Heads to Europe to Focus on Black Sea Stability, NATO 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, on Capitol Hill, Sept. 28, 2021.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is heading to Europe this weekend to meet with leaders in Georgia, Ukraine and Romania and to participate in a NATO defense ministers meeting in Belgium.

“The Department of Defense steadfastly supports its European Allies and partners in the face of Russia’s destabilizing actions in the critical Black Sea region, and the Secretary looks forward to meeting with his counterparts and other senior officials to reinforce the United States’ commitment to a safe, stable, and prosperous Europe,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

In Georgia, Austin will meet with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Minister of Defense Juansher Burchuladze to discuss bilateral relations and regional security.

In Ukraine, the secretary will meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Minister of Defense Andriy Taran to discuss “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” as well as the country’s defense industry reforms.

In Romania, Austin will meet President Klaus Iohannis and Minister of National Defense Nicolae-Ionel Ciuca to discuss bilateral relations. He also will visit U.S. forces at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base.

In Belgium, Austin will attend a meeting of his NATO counterparts and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to ensure the alliance “is prepared for the challenges of the future.”