Pentagon chief meets with Ukrainian counterpart as Russian invasion rages
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Thursday as Russia’s military incursion against Ukraine rages on.
The two defense chiefs spoke about “Russia’s unfounded and unprovoked war against Ukraine,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a readout of the call.
“Secretary Austin made clear that the United States’ support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering and that the United States will continue to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine,” Kirby said.
“Secretary Austin and Minister Reznikov committed to continuing their close coordination during this conflict that Russia alone has created,” he continued.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in eastern Ukraine early on Thursday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that preliminary data showed that 137 people died and 316 others were wounded less than 24 hours after the incursion was launched.
The Pentagon has sent over 6,000 troops to Poland, Romania and Germany over the past few weeks to bolster NATO’s defense capabilities in the region, and on Wednesday repositioned another 800 troops stationed in Europe to the Baltic region.
On Thursday, at President Biden’s direction, Austin ordered an additional 7,000 troops to deploy to Germany after NATO activated its defense plans. These troops were part of an initial 8,500 troops placed on heightened alert to deploy in late January.
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