Pentagon chief comments on Ukraine commitment
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said that while Washington has already sent tens of billions of dollars worth of military assistance to Ukraine, it will continue to ship more for as long as it takes Kiev to capture all territory it claims to be under its sovereignty.
“I think you know that to this point we’ve provided over $20 billion worth of assistance to Ukraine,” he said. “We’ll continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
The Pentagon chief reiterated American commitments to Ukraine on Monday, during a joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. Austin is visiting Indonesia before traveling to Cambodia.
The US official was responding to a question about the upcoming winter season in Europe and what this will mean for hostilities in Ukraine. The US has done “a lot” to prepare Ukrainian troops for harsh conditions, Austin replied, adding that he expected the Ukrainians to be “in much better condition than their adversaries because of the things that we’ve provided them.”
Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February, citing among other things what it described as the clandestine expansion of NATO into its neighboring state. The US and its allies responded by launching an unprecedented campaign to arm and train Kiev’s forces against what they claimed to be an unprovoked attack.
Officials in Moscow have said the aid is simply prolonging the conflict that Russia intends to finish with its national security goals achieved one way or the other. Western nations have turned the conflict into a fight by proxy against Russia and risk its further escalation into an open war, Moscow warned.
“For reasons that are obvious to any sensible person, Russia has not yet used the entire arsenal of its weapons and has not attacked every possible enemy target,” former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev remarked earlier this month, commenting on the battlefield situation in Ukraine.
Kiev was emboldened by Western aid and now refuses to negotiate peace, unless the situation reverts to pre-2014 conditions. The crisis in Ukraine was triggered by the 2014 armed coup in Kiev. Moscow has called Ukrainian demands unacceptable.