Dutch and US defense leaders work to strengthen ties > US Department of Defense > Department of Defense news
Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren and Defense Minister Lloyd J. Austin III said they had never seen NATO more united than it is today.
Ollongren and Austin met at the Pentagon today to discuss next steps against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a range of other issues, including working together in the Indo-Pacific region to maintain the rules-based international order.
In a remark at the beginning of the meeting, Austin commended the Netherlands for its support for Ukraine. “I would like to personally thank you for everything you are doing to support the Ukrainian people in defending their lives, freedom and democracy,” he said. “The Netherlands has heeded Ukraine’s demands for offensive and lethal equipment – particularly in high-priority areas such as artillery and coastal defenses.”
The Netherlands is also reinforcing and reassuring front-line NATO allies by sending forces to Lithuania, Slovakia and Romania, he said. The minister also commended the Netherlands for the European Union‘s efforts to sanction Russia’s energy sector.
The USA and the Netherlands cooperate far beyond NATO. The two countries are working together in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Africa to counter the threat of terrorism, Austin said. “We are working together in the Caribbean to fight drug smuggling,” he said. “And I know that the Netherlands is also committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Ollongren thanked Austin for his leadership in efforts to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to repel Russia’s unprovoked invasion. “Our common task is really to protect our important values and to protect the freedom of the people,” she said. “I would also like to say … that as a true leader at the Department of Defense, you have also shown your commitment to women’s health.”
The Netherlands will spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense in 2024. The Dutch military buys cutting-edge capabilities, including F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles. The Secretary of Defense noted that the United States and the Netherlands are working together on high-tech defense in the cyber world and in space.
Ollongen said the Netherlands recognized the United States as a nation in 1777. “Our relationship is based on mutual commitment, freedom and rights,” she said.
She said the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which Austin heads. gathers allies and partners from around the world. “We have taken that support to a new level, urging to do more and leading by example, and we stand ready to work with you and do whatever it takes to help you make history and protect it.” , she said.