Russia has increased its saber rattling in Eastern Europe and the Arctic, a move that has put the Biden administration on alert.
In the past two weeks, Moscow has moved to test Washington and its allies on land, air and sea with a buildup of military equipment in eastern Ukraine, military flights near Alaskan airspace, and underwater activity in the Arctic.
“I think we have been very clear about the threats that we see from Russia in all domains. … We are taking them very, very seriously, “Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Wednesday.
The Defense Department is overly observant of Russian activity after fighting between Moscow-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers in eastern Ukraine resumed, ending the ceasefire that both groups made last summer.
Twenty Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the skirmishes since early 2021.
The two sides have been fighting since 2014 when Moscow seized Crimea and annexed it to Ukraine, a conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since its inception.
Russian jets and bombers have also frequently flown near Allied airspace, forcing NATO jets to fight to respond 10 times on Monday alone.
Additionally, in late March, three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines simultaneously broke several feet of ice in the Arctic in a military drill, a maneuver that comes as the Kremlin has moved to raise its defenses in the Arctic.
Russia’s aggressive actions have prompted the U.S. European Command to raise its alert status to its highest level, and activity in Ukraine, in particular, has led Biden’s top national security leaders to call their Ukrainian counterparts and other leaders of the region.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark milleyMark Milley NIGHT DEFENSE: Pentagon Reveals Policies Reversing Trump’s Ban on Transgender People l Senior US Military Official Calls on Russia and Ukraine for ‘Concerns’ About Troop Buildup Senior US Military Official Calls on Russia Ukraine over ‘concerns’ over troop build-up Night defense: report urges radical changes in Capitol Security | Biden Promotes Female Overall Nominees on International Women’s Day | US Supports Saudis After ‘Atrocious’ Houthi Attacks MORE on Wednesday he spoke by phone with Ukraine’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Ruslan Khomchak, as well as with Russia’s top officer, Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.
A day later, the Secretary of Defense Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: 1 officer killed, 1 injured after car struck Capitol barrier Army suspends multiple service members on sexual assault charges. The military suspends several service members after the apprentice says she was sexually assaulted. He called on his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Andriy Taran, to “discuss the regional security situation” and condemn “the recent escalation of aggressive and provocative Russian actions in eastern Ukraine,” according to Kirby.
National Security Advisor Jake sullivanJake SullivanUS meets with South Korea, Japan to discuss approach to North Korea Conflict in Ethiopia creates opening for WHO reform NIGHT DEFENSE: Pentagon reveals policies reversing Trump’s transgender ban l Senior official US military calls on Russia and Ukraine for ‘concerns’ over troop buildup MORE last week he also spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, as did the secretary of state Antony blinkenAntony BlinkenKerry Says US Hopes to Work With China on Climate Blinken Reversals Trump Sanctions on ICC Officials Biden Maintains First Phone Call with President of Ukraine MORE, who said he discussed “ways to strengthen security cooperation” with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
All the leaders have promised that Washington would back Kiev.
But Russia on Friday warned NATO against deploying troops to Ukraine, threatening that such actions would increase tensions and that Moscow would be forced to respond.
“There is no doubt that such a scenario would lead to further escalation of tensions near Russia’s borders. Of course, this would require additional measures from the Russian side to guarantee their safety, “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.
The head of the US Northern Command, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, said the stance stems from the US and Russia being back in a “competition of great power,” as during the Cold War.
“Clearly, Russia is trying to assert its influence and capabilities on a global stage,” VanHerck told reporters on Wednesday.
“The difference between the past and now is that the intersections are more complex (multi-access, multi-platform) and often enter the [air defense identification zone] and stay for hours, “he added.
In 2020, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which is in charge of defending North American airspace, responded to more Russian military flights off the coast of Alaska than in any year since the end of the Cold War. .
Moscow’s bellicose stance appears to have continued into 2021, giving President BidenJoe Biden – Lawmakers Say Fixing Border Crisis Is Biden’s Job Trump Asks Republicans To Boycott Businesses Amid White House Voting Law Controversy: GOP Has ‘Had Trouble Articulating A Reason’ To oppose the infrastructure plan MORE a foreign policy challenge in the early days of his administration.
Last month, when asked if he thought the Russian president Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich Putin Biden makes first phone call with Ukrainian President Meghan McCain, criticizes Biden for lack of action on Russia, Navalny, critic of Navalny Putin, goes on hunger strike in prison to receive proper medical treatment PLUS he was a “murderer” Biden replied, “Yes, I do.” He added that the Russian leader “will pay a price” for the country’s influence operation aimed at the 2020 elections and other cyberattacks.
Backing up your hardline stance, Biden at the end of February it approved another $ 125 million value of security aid to Ukraine to defend its borders against Russia. The money is in addition to the more than $ 2 billion in lethal assistance the United States government has sent to the country since the annexation of Crimea.
Whether fighting intensifies in eastern Ukraine or how NATO would respond remains to be seen, but the Pentagon has made clear that it is on alert.
“We are monitoring the situation regarding the Ukrainian military reports of Russian military placements and forces along the border … very, very closely,” Kirby said Thursday.
“We certainly ask the Russians to be more transparent about what this is about, but we have learned from bitter history not to simply take Russian claims of their intentions at face value,” he added.