The US on Thursday renewed its pledge to provide ‘defensive assistance’ to Ukraine’s military, in a move that comes after talks between Moscow and the West failed to reduce border tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Reznikov, about the “unwarranted heightening of the Russian military situation in Ukraine and its borders”.
He added that the U.S. Secretary “reaffirmed the unwavering support of the United States for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including ongoing efforts to enhance the capabilities of Ukrainian forces through the provision of defense aid. Kirby said the two ministers did not discuss specific weapons, but the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed our commitment to helping Ukraine defend itself.”
Washington has provided Kiev with small arms, patrol ships and Javelin anti-tank missile launchers, but many in Congress are calling on the White House to do more in this regard.
On Wednesday, Democratic senators introduced a bill that would impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and provide financial assistance to Kiev if Russia invades Ukraine. The draft law on the defense of sovereignty of Ukraine plans to impose sanctions on Putin, his Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin, senior military officials and numerous entities of the Russian banking sector in the event of “ invasion” or “escalation” of Russia”. hostilities” against Ukraine.
The proposal also calls for an additional $500 million in military aid to Ukraine to deal with the Russian invasion, more than double what the Biden administration provided Kiev last year.
Tensions around Ukraine have increased in recent months after the United States and Western countries accused Russia of gathering around 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery on its border with Ukraine in preparation for a possible invasion of its western neighbor, but the Russian authorities have denied this.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration plans to equip Kiev with helicopters initially intended for the Afghan army.
On Thursday, Kirby said: Two-thirds of these Russian forces came from other military regions and only a 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 seen no sign of a reduction in this military presence (…) and we are monitoring it closely”.