Austin Says Putin Now Has Full Range of Options in Ukraine

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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says Russia has arrayed enough military forces along Ukraine’s borders to provide Moscow with a complete range of options, including moves short of a full-scale invasion

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 launch “coercive acts or provocative political acts" like the recognition of breakaway territories inside Ukraine. He urged Putin to de-escalate the tensions.

Earlier Friday, the Kremlin said Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that the West has failed to consider Russia’s key conditions of halting further NATO expansion, stopping the deployment of alliance weapons near Russian borders, and rolling back its forces from Eastern Europe. Putin has made no public remarks about the Western response, but Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it leaves little chance for reaching agreement.

Lavrov said the U.S. suggested the two sides could talk about limits on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles, restrictions on military drills and rules to prevent accidents between warships and aircraft. He said that Russia proposed discussing those issues years ago — but Washington and its allies never took them up on it until now.

While Moscow and the West are mulling their next steps, NATO said it was bolstering its deterrence in the Baltic Sea region, and the U.S. ordered 8,500 troops on higher alert for potential deployment to Europe.

 

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