U.S. Department of Defense officials and diplomats are pushing Moscow for concrete answers with regard to its intentions in the region
What Is Russia’s Goal for Ukraine?
According to Ukrainian military intelligence, Russia has close to 100,000 troops in the border region that could invade. This assessment was indirectly backed by the U.S. intelligence community when it contacted European allies and partners to warn them about the Russian military buildup and a potential incursion inside Ukraine.
The U.S. government has requested answers from Moscow about the buildup.
“What we continue to see is unusual military activity inside Russia, but near Ukraine’s borders, and we remain concerned about that. It’s not exactly clear what the Russian intentions are. We obviously would like to better understand that. And we don’t want to see any action further destabilize what is already a very tense part of the world. And we urge Russia to be clear about their intentions and to abide by their Minsk agreements,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.
The Pentagon has emphasized its intention to operate in the area, where international law permits, as a way to deter any unilateral action from Russia. U.S. Navy warships have deployed in the Black Sea, while fighter and bomber aircraft have been conducting exercises and rotations in eastern Europe.
When it comes to actual combat support to Ukrainian forces by the U.S. military, U.S. officials have been vague. Although Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that the U.S. supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine, he didn’t say that American troops and hardware will defend it in the event of an attack.
“As you heard Secretary Austin say many times when we were in Europe just a couple of weeks ago, our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is unwavering,” the Pentagon press secretary added.
Ukraine isn’t part of NATO, and as such it doesn’t receive the protection member states get from Article 5, which ensures a common defense in case a third country or group attacks one member state.
Russia’s Playbook: Another Crimea?
U.S. diplomats also accused Moscow of trying to do a “Crimea.” In 2014, Russian troops invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, which belongs to Ukraine, claiming that the Crimean people requested Russian intervention.
“We do not have clarity into Moscow’s current intentions, but we all know what Russia did in 2014 — it used force to violate Ukraine’s sovereign territory, seizing Crimea and initiating the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine, falsely claiming its unilateral aggression was provoked,” Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Elisabeth Rosenstock-Siller said at a session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Established in 1973, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is an intergovernmental organization on security, focusing on the promotion of arms control, human rights, press freedom, and fair electoral processes. It is the largest organization of its kind in the world. It is worth noting that Russia is a participant member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“We are all familiar with Russia’s playbook, with its fabrications that attempt to justify the unjustifiable. The recent escalation in hostile rhetoric from the Kremlin against Ukraine, including baseless claims that Ukraine’s purely defensive actions on its own Ukrainian territory are provocations, has not gone unnoticed,” Rosenstock-Siller added.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.