On Thursday, the United States renewed its commitment to provide “defensive assistance” to the Ukrainian army, in a situation that comes after talks between Moscow and the West failed to reduce tension on the border between Russia and Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Reznikov, “discussed the unjustified strengthening of the Russian military situation in Ukraine and on its borders.”
He added that the US Secretary “reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including current efforts to enhance the capabilities of Ukrainian forces through the provision of defense assistance.”
Kirby said the two ministers did not discuss specific weapons, but the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed our commitment to help Ukraine defend itself.”
Washington has provided Kiev with light weapons, patrol ships, and Javelin anti-tank missile launchers, but many members of Congress are calling on the White House to do more.
On Wednesday, Democratic senators introduced a bill that would impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and provide financial aid to Kiev if Russia invades Ukraine.
The proposed Law “On Defense of Sovereignty of Ukraine” would impose sanctions on Putin, his Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, senior military officials, and several entities of the Russian banking sector in the event of an “invasion” or “escalation” of Russian hostilities against Ukraine.
The proposal also calls for $500 million in additional military aid to Ukraine to deal with the Russian invasion, more than double what the Biden administration provided to Kiev last year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration is considering providing Kiev with helicopters that were originally intended for the Afghan army.
On Thursday, Kirby said that two-thirds of these Russian forces came from other military regions, and only one-third of them are actually stationed in the region.
“We remain very concerned about the Russian presence near the border with Ukraine,” he added.
“We remain very concerned about what appears to be a refusal on their part to find a way to calm down.”
The Pentagon spokesman stressed that the United States “has not seen any indication of reducing this military presence (…) and we are watching it closely.”
Tensions around Ukraine have increased in recent months after the United States and Western countries accused Russia of amassing about 100,000 soldiers, tanks and artillery on its border with Ukraine in preparation for a possible invasion of its western neighbor, but the Russian authorities denied this.
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