Defense minister says ‘conflict is not inevitable’ in Ukraine


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley briefed reporters at the Pentagon on Friday Russia’s military buildup vicinity Ukraine‘s limit. Austin said “conflict is not inevitable” and that there was still time for diplomacy.

In recent months, Russia has been building up forces in the western parts of Russia near Ukraine and in Belarus north of Ukraine. The US, along with its NATO allies, has urged Russia to de-escalate tensions and warned of the consequences if Russia launches another invasion.

There are no plans to send US troops to Ukraine, but the US has surrendered 8,500 US soldiers from US bases on high alert to possibly send to Eastern Europe. The vast majority of those 8,500 troops would support the NATO Response Force if activated by the Alliance.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said US troops already in Europe could move within Europe to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank if the need arose. Many of the troops on rotational deployments in Europe are already on high alert for the deployment.

President Biden and President of Ukraine Volodymyr spoke Thursday.

Pentagon US-Afghanistan
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Mark Milley, listen to a question during a media briefing at the Pentagon Wednesday, August 18, 2021 in Washington.

Alex Brandon/AP

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