Vladimir Putin now has full range of options in Ukraine: Lloyd Austin

Prime News, International, Defence, Washington (USA), January 29:- United States Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin said on Friday (January 28) the buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine’s border has reached the point where President Vladimir Putin now has a complete range of military options, including actions short of a full-scale invasion.

“While we don’t believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine, he clearly now has the capability,” Austin told a Pentagon news conference.

In Moscow, the Kremlin said Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that the West has failed to take Russian security concerns into account, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a radio interviewer that Russia doesn’t want war but sees no room for compromise on its demands.

Austin said Putin could use any portion of his force of an estimated 100,000 troops to seize Ukrainian cities and “significant territories” or to carry out “coercive acts or provocative political acts” like the recognition of breakaway territories inside Ukraine. He urged Putin to de-escalate tensions, and appeared to warn Moscow against what the White House recently said was Russia’s intent to paint Ukraine as the aggressor using a “false-flag operation” to justify an attack.

“We remain focused on Russian disinformation, including the potential creation of pretext for further invasion or strikes on Donbas,” said Austin. “This is straight out of the Russian playbook. They’re not fooling us.”

Austin spoke alongside Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in what was their first extensive public comments about the crisis, marking a subtle shift in the administration’s approach to public communications about the escalating situation. While both have consulted regularly with their NATO and Ukrainian counterparts, the public discourse has focused on the diplomatic efforts. (MR, Inputs: Agencies)

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