The White House says Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's declaration the US wants to "see Russia weakened" is in line with the administration's long-held goal to prevent Moscow from consuming Ukraine.
"I think what Secretary Austin, in his press conference, was referring to was if you go back about two months ago, remember President Putin gave a speech where he talked about the aspirations — his aspirations, the aspirations he had for the Russian military — which were to degrade Ukraine, subsume Ukraine, to take over their sovereignty, their territorial integrity," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday during a news briefing.
"What Secretary Austin was talking about is our objective to prevent that from happening," she went on. "Obviously right now the war is in Ukraine. We’re proud of the Ukrainians’ success, their efforts to fight back, to push back on the Russian military, thanks to their bravery and also to our support."
"We are also looking to prevent them from expanding their efforts and President Putin’s objectives beyond that too," she continued.
More on Austin's comments: Speaking after visiting Kyiv on Sunday, Austin outlined some of the United States' goals as the country continues to support Ukraine's efforts in the war.
"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 at a news conference at an undisclosed location in Poland near the Ukrainian border following the trip to Kyiv.
Psaki said the comment was in line with the administration's views of the conflict.
"I would say it’s consistent with our view, and the President’s view, and Secretary Austin’s view that we are going to do everything we can to push back on President Putin’s aspirations to subsume Ukraine, to take over their territorial integrity and their sovereignty, and aspirations he had as of two months ago to go beyond that," she said.