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Iran Press TV

Pentagon: 'It's really unclear' what Putin's planning for Ukraine

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 29 January 2022 3:49 PM

The Pentagon says that "it's really unclear" what Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning against Ukraine amid Washington's claims that Russia is planning to invade the neighboring country.

Asked in an interview to be aired on Sunday, what might provoke Putin to act given the present situation between Ukraine and Russia, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said, "It's really unclear what Mr. Putin has in mind."

"I mean, we do believe that at this point he still has not made a decision about whether to launch another invasion or an incursion of any size into Ukraine, but he has a lot more capability and a lot of options available to him now than he did even just two weeks ago," Kirby added.

"He continues to add to his forces on the ground, in and around the border with Ukraine as well as in Belarus," he continued. "And he continues to operate significant numbers of ships in the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic."

US officials have claimed that a Russian troop buildup along its border with Ukraine includes supplies of blood for the wounded, Reuters reported on Saturday.

The disclosure by the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, came among US claims that Russia could be preparing for an invasion of Ukraine as it has amassed more than 100,000 troops near its borders. Moscow has rejected the allegations and said the troop build-up is defensive.

Kirby said that Putin had "a lot of options available to him" on how to proceed against Ukraine, but he said that he hoped the Russian leader would choose diplomacy.

Washington has insisted upon expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into the former Soviet states of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, and the nations of the defunct Warsaw Pact, since the Cold War ended. Russia has vowed to counter any such Western attempts.

The Pentagon spokesman said that some of Russia's demands, including prohibiting Ukraine from joining NATO, are outside of Putin's purview, but added that there were others that Washington would be willing to negotiate with him.

"It's not up to Vladimir Putin to put a veto on whether a nation joins NATO or who it associates with. It's not up to Vladimir Putin to decide that their sovereignty can be violated so easily. So there's certain things, obviously, principles we're not going to compromise on," Kirby said.

"But when we started these negotiations with him, we were willing to put something on the table if the Russians would reciprocate. For instance, scaling back, maybe the size and scope of some of our exercises on the continent, but it would require reciprocity from the Russians. They weren't willing to go there," he continued.

"So again, we're not closing the door on talks. The State Department has been clear, there's still room for that, but we'll have to see where it goes," he said.

On Monday, the US and NATO said they were preparing thousands of troops to potentially deploy to Eastern Europe to counter the threat of a "Russian invasion."

Biden: 'We have a sacred obligation'

Speaking in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden told reporters that the 8,500 troops put on high alert to potentially deploy to Eastern Europe "are part of a NATO operation, not a sole U.S. operation."

"I made it clear to President Putin that we have a sacred obligation, Article 5 obligation to our NATO allies. And that if, in fact, he continued to build up and/or was to move, we would be reinforcing those troops," Biden said.

"I've spoken with every one of our NATO allies ... and we're all on the same page," he added. "We've got to make it clear that there's no reason for anyone, any member of NATO, to worry whether or not ... we, NATO, would come to their defense."

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