Croatia gave Ukraine all its Mi-8 helicopters
Croatian Defence Minister Mario Banožić. Photo: EPA

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday thanked his Croatian counterpart Mario Banožić for the transfer of its Mi-8 helicopters to Ukraine, which has been fighting against Russian full-scale aggression for more than a year and a half.

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"We appreciate Croatia's steadfast commitment to help Ukraine, and we can see that in your numerous military equipment donations, including all of your Mi-8 helicopters," Mr Austin told Mr Banožić, according to the Pentagon.

Earlier this year, Croatia was reportedly planning to send 14 Mi-8 helicopters to Ukraine, including 12 Mi-8MTV-1 and 2 Mi-8T.

The US defence chief noted how Croatia has made ‘impressive’ progress over the last 30 years, becoming a fully integrated member of NATO and the European Union.

"And that kind of progress doesn't just happen, it takes hard work and sound policy and it takes a willingness to set aside differences and to look to the future."

In turn, the Croatian official stressed the two countries’ joint work "to defend the democratic values and the international rule-based order".

"Your personal leadership, most visible in joint efforts to assist Ukraine, [so that it] has defence [against] Russia's aggression, represent[s] our ability [to build] a better role for us and our nation for generations to come," Mr Banožić added.