US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the US government is not seeing any kind of withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine’s border. Instead, the US continues to see Russia add to its capabilities and troops “even in the last couple of days,” Austin said during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.
Austin said the US is seeing Russia “fly in more combat and support aircraft,” plus “sharpen their readiness in the Black Sea” and even “stocking up their blood supplies.”
He also said the US is seeing some of Russia’s troops “inch closer to that border” with Ukraine in recent days.
“I was a soldier myself not that long ago, and I know firsthand that you don’t do these sort of things for no reason, and you certainly don’t do them if you’re getting ready to pack up and go home, so we and our allies will stay vigilant,” Austin said.
Austin said that while the US is still “gathering the details” about shelling in Ukraine’s Donbas region, there is concern that it may have been done by Russia to create a pretext for an invasion.
“We’ve said for some time that the Russians might do something like this in order to justify a military conflict,” Austin said. “So we’ll be watching this very closely.”