Pentagon chief says US wants to see Russia ‘weakened’
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday said that one of the U.S.’s goals in aiding Ukraine is to “see Russia weakened” so that it cannot “do the kinds of things that it has done.”
When asked by reporters what the U.S. goal was in Ukraine, he added, “We want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country able to protect its sovereign territory.”
“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” he said.
Austin, along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, shared their remarks while in Poland after a visit to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.
Austin added that Russia has already already lost a lot of military capability, and a lot of its troops.
According to Austin, the U.S. wants “to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce” those troops or military capability.
The Pentagon chief added that “we want to see the international community more united, especially NATO, and we’re seeing that, and that’s based upon the hard work of, number one, President Biden, but also our Allies and partners who have willingly leaned into this with us as we’ve imposed sanctions and as we’ve moved very rapidly to demonstrate that we’re going to defend every inch of NATO.”
Austin praised Zelensky’s leadership as well and expressed “our deepest condolences to the president for the loss of so many civilians and, of course, the loss of those courageous troops that have done just a magnificent job of pushing back Russian forces.”
He added that the meeting was “productive” and their focus was “to talk about those things that would enable us to win the current fight and also build for tomorrow.”
Blinken and Austin’s visit marks the most senior U.S. officials to visit Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24 and comes on the heels of Biden announcing the U.S. will send Ukraine another $800 million in military aid.
The Treasury Department separately announced Thursday $500 million in funding to help Ukraine fund government salaries, pensions and other programs needed to keep operations afloat.
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