December 6, 2021
By Jim Garamone , DOD News
Diplomacy, Leadership Can Prevent Conflict Between Russia, Ukraine
There is space for diplomacy and leadership with Russia to prevent conflict with Ukraine, DOD officials said today.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is carefully watching the situation in the region. "I won't get into intelligence assessments, but he is staying very keenly and closely informed by senior military and policy leaders here at the department about what we continue to see," Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.
President Vladimir Putin continues to build Russian capabilities on Russia's border with Ukraine.
President Joseph Biden will speak with Putin tomorrow.
Kirby noted that Austin was asked about the situation over the weekend and believes "that diplomacy and leadership can still make a difference," Kirby said. "There needs to be space for that diplomacy and for that leadership, to come to play, to try to get an outcome here that is stabilizing and that doesn't result in any sort of open armed conflict."
The Russian build-up is disturbing as it brings back memories of Russia's occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. The United States and its NATO allies responded with the European reassurance initiative and based troops in the Baltic Republics, Poland and other frontline states. Nations also began supplying Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal security assistance. The United States has provided millions of dollars worth of assistance to Ukraine in just the last year, Kirby said.
Other allies have also helped Ukraine defend itself. "But again, I want to go back to what I said before: We don't believe that conflict is inevitable and that there is time and space," Kirby said.
The United States continues to see a buildup of Russian military forces in western Russia. "This buildup is concerning to us," Kirby said. "It is still not entirely clear what Mr. Putin's intentions are."
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