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US, allies remain united on Ukraine, Pentagon chief says

Lloyd Austin says US will support Ukraine for as long as it takes

WASHINGTON, January 12. /TASS/. Western countries remain united on the Ukraine issue, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said at a press conference following a meeting between the US and Japanese foreign policy and defense chiefs.

"We are going to conduct another Ukraine defense contact group meeting next week in Germany where we’ll get 50 or so ministers of defense together to talk about what Ukraine’s needs are now and what they need to be successful going forward," he pointed out.

"You’ve heard us say over and over again that we’re going to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, and from everything that I can see from our allies and partners, they feel the same way. So we remain united in our efforts," Austin added.

According to him, it is too early to say that Russian forces have taken control of the town of Soledar.

Meanwhile, Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said in the early hours of Wednesday that Soledar, which had been an arena of hostilities over the past days, had been taken under control by combatants of the Wagner private military company and that there was a pocket in the town center where fighting was raging. Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov reported later on Wednesday that Russian forces had blocked Soledar from the north and south and fighting was going on in the city. Yan Gagin, a military and political expert from the DPR, previously told TASS that up to 500 Ukrainian service members might remain in Soledar.