Top US officials have said they do not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a “final decision” on whether to invade Ukraine, stressing that the door is open to diplomacy. conflict in Eastern Europe is still open.
The Pentagon on Friday also reiterated its promise to defend NATO allies bordering Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, warning that the human toll of a war would be “horrific”.
“There is no reason for this situation to degenerate into conflict. He (Putin) could choose to de-escalate, “U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters, adding that conflict was” not inevitable. “
“He can command his troops away. He can choose dialogue and diplomacy. “Whatever he decides, the United States will stand with our allies and partners,” Austin said.
His remarks come days after the United States filed written answers Russia’s security issues, which Putin said did not take into account the country’s “fundamental concerns” – namely Moscow’s objection to NATO’s eastern expansion.
The Russian military has assembled troops near the country’s border with Ukraine, prompting a diplomatic crisis and raising US and European fears that Russia may be preparing for an impending invasion of its neighbor. Russia has denied any plans to invade Ukraine, but has strongly opposed the country’s efforts to join NATO.
Moscow wants security guarantees that the US-led alliance would stop its expansion into former Soviet republics, but Washington and NATO rejected the claim as a “non-starter” while saying they were open to discussing arms control measures in Europe.
War would be ‘horrible’: US General
On Friday, top US General Mark Milley warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would cause mass accidents and tremendous, unnecessary suffering for civilians – and he repeated Washington’s call for de-escalation.
“This will result in a significant number of accidents. “And you can imagine what it might look like in dense urban areas, along roads, and so on, and so forth,” Milley told reporters. “It will be awful. It will be terrible, and it is not necessary. And we think a diplomatic outcome is the way to go here. “
Earlier in the day, international amnesty also said that an escalation of the armed conflict in Ukraine would be devastating, emphasizing that the ceasefire is already affecting millions.
“The effects of actual military force are likely to be devastating,” the group’s secretary general Agnes Callamard said in a statement. “Ukraine’s recent history is marked by conflicts involving Russian troops in the Donbas and the illegal annexation of Crimea. These episodes tore communities and lives apart as military forces trampled on the rights of civilians with impunity; it’s time to break that vicious circle. “
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and shortly afterwards supported a separatist rebellion in the country’s east. where to fight killed more than 13,000 people and displaced millions.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon stated 8,500 US troops “on vigilance” in anticipation of violence in Eastern Europe. President Joe Biden has ruled out a military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, and instead threatens to impose comprehensive sanctions if Moscow decides to take military action against its neighbor.
However, the US president said Washington would fulfill its “sacred obligation” to its NATO allies, with which it has a collective defense treaty. Milley noted on Friday that Ukraine borders four NATO members – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.
“The president and secretary of defense have authorized the US military to increase our readiness if we need to strengthen or assist our NATO allies,” he said, stressing that the US does not have a permanent military presence in Ukraine. self.
“There is a small contingent of US and NATO advisers and trainers currently in Ukraine,” Milley told reporters. “The United States has no offensive weapons systems, nor any permanent forces or bases in Ukraine.”
UN Security Council meeting
Meanwhile, the U.S. administration is holding a meeting next week at the UN Security Council – where both Washington and Moscow are permanent members – to discuss the crisis
The open session is set for Monday, but on Friday Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, called the US request for a meeting a public relations ploy, suggesting that Moscow could ask for a vote. to block the meeting.
Nine of the Security Council’s 15 members must vote in favor of the meeting to make it happen; the five permanent members can not use their veto to stop it.
I can not remember another occasion when an SC member suggested discussing his own unfounded allegations and assumptions as a threat to intl order from someone else. Hopefully, fellow UNSC members will not support this clear PR stunt that is disgraceful to the reputation of the UN Security Council https://t.co/2HCjnQh0ic
– Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) 28 January 2022
A senior official in the Biden administration said on Friday that the Security Council has a “primary responsibility” to address crises that pose a threat to international peace, such as the situation in Ukraine.
“We believe that the situation on the ground requires that we engage in preventative diplomacy to avoid a crisis before it is upon us,” said the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity. “In our view, it would be a failure of the Security Council’s duties to follow a wait-and-see approach.”
The meeting will be an “important opportunity” for world powers, including Russia, to “be on record” in their positions in the cul-de-sac, the official added.