Defense Secretary Austin: US Wants ‘to See Russia Weakened’

Defense Secretary Austin: US Wants 'to See Russia Weakened' Defense Secretary Austin: US Wants 'to See Russia Weakened'

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (Paulius Peleckis/Getty Images)

By Eric Mack | Monday, 25 April 2022 07:05 PM

Vladimir Putin's Russian regime must not be emboldened and powerful enough to carry out what it called a ''special military operation'' in Ukraine, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

''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,'' Austin said on Monday after visiting Kyiv, Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The wheels are already turning and Russia has already been weakened by its failure to secure a quick victory in Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said as Austin and Blinken returned.

''However this ends up, Russia will be in a much weaker position,'' the official told reporters, according to the Journal. ''Ukraine will be in a much stronger position to further deter against any renewed aggression once this is over.''

The grinding of the Russian forces in Ukraine will also put NATO in a stronger position relative to Putin's forces, the official continued.

''Whatever force they're putting into Ukraine and is getting eaten up in the war, is force they can't have as a deterrent against this fiction that NATO somehow has offensive desires on Russia,'' the source said.

Austin will now travel to Germany to host counterparts from more than 20 nations and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the U.S. air base at Ramstein to discuss Ukraine's defense needs, a Pentagon official said.

The meeting Blinken and Austin held with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and other officials lasted nearly three hours, overrunning an allotted time of 90 minutes.

U.S. diplomats left the embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, nearly two weeks before the Feb. 24 invasion, moving some functions to the western city of Lviv before eventually relocating to Poland.

Diplomats will initially resume ''day trips'' across the border to Lviv in the coming week, and officials are accelerating plans to return to Kyiv, according to a State Department official.

Austin and Blinken announced a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries; some $322 million is earmarked for Kyiv. The remainder will be split among NATO members and other nations that have provided Ukraine with critical military supplies since the war with Russia began, officials said.

Such financing is different from previous U.S. military assistance for Ukraine. It is not a donation of drawn-down U.S. Defense Department stockpiles, but rather cash that countries can use to buy supplies that they might need.

''We believe that they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support,'' Austin said, the Journal reported, adding of Zelenskyy: ''While he's grateful for all the things we're doing, he's also focused on what he thinks he'll need next in order to be successful.''

Amid the continued support, U.S. officials acknowledged that Putin might be inclined to escalate the war in Ukraine, if not use weapons of mass destruction.

''I suspect that May is going to be very much in his mind in wanting to show something, so we fully anticipate that he's going to press the accelerator the best he can,'' the senior official told the Journal. ''We're trying to be prepared for everything.''

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Original Article