Pentagon reaffirms unwavering US support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing military buildup

14 January 2022, 03:14 PM

The United States has reaffirmed its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity amid Russia’s ongoing and unprovoked military buildup, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told his Ukrainian counterpart, Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov, in a Jan. 13 call.

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby commented that the defense ministers had expressed support for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and had committed to continuing their close coordination.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has not yet revealed the details of the talk.

On Jan. 6, Austin held talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu. They discussed risk reduction near Ukraine’s borders.

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The next round of talks took place at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Permanent Council meeting in Vienna on Jan. 13, this time with the involvement of Ukrainian representatives.

On Jan. 12, the NATO-Russia Council meeting was held with the involvement of representatives of Russia and the 30 member states of NATO.The United States and Russia held a round of crisis talks in Geneva, Switzerland on Jan. 10.

A series of talks with Russia took place in Europe this week.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Jan. 13 said that his country would not even discuss with the United States or NATO the issue of the movement of troops across its own territory.

Since late October, Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border.

As of early December, about 100,000 Russian soldiers were deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories in the Donbas, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in Ukraine’s parliament on Dec. 3.

International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 200,000 Russian soldiers.

The situation on Ukraine's eastern border is a matter of deep concern for both U.S. and European Union officials. According to U.S. President Joe Biden, the White House is looking at a range of options to dissuade Russia from a potential attack on Ukraine.

Biden has defined these measures as “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people believe he may do.”

The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, previously stated that the Ukrainian government deemed the threat of a direct Russian invasion unlikely. However, in early December, Reznikov said Russian aggression towards Ukraine could intensify in late January 2022.

The New York Times newspaper on Jan. 11 speculated that “Mr. Putin’s deadline for committing his forces has slipped further toward the spring.”

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