Lloyd Austin, US Defense Secretary, Cancels NATO Trip Due to Hospitalization

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cancels NATO trip after hospitalisation

Austin, the US Defense Secretary, finds himself hospitalized in critical care due to complications arising from prostate cancer, prompting the cancellation of his planned trip to Brussels. This trip was intended for meetings with NATO ministers and discussions on military aid for Ukraine, a matter of significant international concern.

According to US officials, Austin, aged 70, was admitted to Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Sunday after displaying symptoms indicative of a pressing bladder issue, as confirmed by the Pentagon. In response, medical professionals administered nonsurgical procedures under general anesthesia to address the immediate problem.

While Austin’s hospitalization disrupts his schedule, doctors remain optimistic about his recovery. They anticipate a swift return to his duties, with no prolonged hospital stay expected. Furthermore, they reassure that his cancer prognosis remains favorable, despite the current setback.

Lloyd Austin
Lloyd Austin (Credits: BNN Breaking)

Originally slated to travel to Brussels on Tuesday, Austin’s attendance at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, along with subsequent NATO defense minister meetings, will now take place virtually. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks may potentially represent him at the latter.

White House spokesman John Kirby has conveyed President Joe Biden’s confidence in Austin’s ability to continue serving effectively despite this medical episode. However, this isn’t the first health-related incident involving Austin; previously, he underwent prostate cancer surgery in December, followed by a hospitalization in January due to complications.

The recent revelation of these health issues, after having failed to inform Biden and senior officials earlier, led Austin to publicly apologize for the oversight.

Moreover, Austin faces scrutiny regarding the secrecy surrounding his initial hospitalization, scheduled to testify before Congress on February 29. Meanwhile, the timing of his canceled trip coincides with critical developments in Europe, particularly concerning Ukraine.

The US Senate, despite facing opposition from Republican hardliners and former President Donald Trump, has progressed toward passing a substantial aid package worth $95.3 billion for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

This support for Ukraine, amounting to $61 billion, is pivotal as the country approaches the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, with front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine showing little change.

Trump’s recent controversial remarks, suggesting a reluctance to defend NATO allies and even potentially encouraging Russian aggression, have drawn sharp criticism from the White House and Western officials. Such statements underscore the significance of ongoing discussions concerning military aid and international security arrangements, especially in the face of evolving geopolitical challenges.

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