‘Lot of care’ over Russian military activity in near Ukraine, top US general says

Chair of the joint chefs of U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley Staff Answers Questions at House Armed Services Committee Hearing on “Termination of the US Military Mission” in Afghanistan” in the office building of Rayburn House in Washington, USA, September 29, 2021. Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (Reuters) – The United States is following ample indicators and warnings around Russian military activity in near Ukraine to trigger “a lot of concern” and the Russian rhetoric seems to be getting sharper, the top of the US military agent said late on Thursday.

Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the joint chefs of Staff, declined speculate over the species of options the United States might consider: in the event of a Russian invasion. But Milly, in some of his most comprehensive comments on the crisis, emphasized the importance of Ukraine’s sovereignty to Washington and to the NATO alliance.

“There is significant national security interests of the United States and of NATO member states at stake if there was an overt act of aggressive military action by the Russians in a nation state die has been independent since 1991,” Milley said during a flight from Seoul to Washington.

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Ukraine says Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops in near their long shared border. But Moscow has rejected suggestions die it is preparing for An attack on its southern neighbor and has its right to troops in to put defended on its own territory at its discretion.

The Kremlin already the Black Sea peninsula annexed of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then supported rebels die in Kiev fought government forces in the East of the country. That conflict killed 14,000 people people, Kyiv says, and still cooks.

Experts warn that an undisputed Russian invasion could destabilize creating ripple effects far beyond Ukraine at once of increasing anxiety over Chinese intentions towards Taiwan.

Milley declined to make his estimate public of the number of Russian troops in near Ukraine, but suggested his concerns went beyond the raw numbers of Russian troops.

“I’m not going to tell you what we’re tracking and the indicators of warnings from an intelligence standpoint, but we’re all following them,” said Milley. “And there’s plenty out for that now cause a lot of concern, and we will continue to monitor.”

Russia and Ukraine have centuries of shared history and formed the two largest republics of the Soviet Union until the collapse of 1991, so Moscow sees its neighbor’s ambition to join NATO as an insult and a threat.

since the latest crisis has begun, Moscow has set out to demand for legally binding security guarantees from the West, and for guarantees that NATO will not admit Ukraine as a member and will not use missile systems there to target Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Moscow on Thursday of “heavy costs” if it were to invade Ukraine, and he urged his Russian counterpart to seek a diplomatic way out of the crisis. read more

Milley declined to speculate of Russian President Vladimir Putin was said to be encouraged by US President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying, “You should ask Putin.” The withdrawal in August ended America’s two-decade-old war in an unequivocal defeat, with the Taliban return to power.

“I think it’s a mistake for each country to draw a broad strategic conclusion based on on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and take that event and automatically apply it to other situations,” said Milley.

He cited historical examples of past American Presidents who troops withdrawn in some places but ordered military action elsewhere.

“So the United States is a difficult country for other countries sometimes understand,” he said.

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Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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