The Pentagon confirms sending light weapons to Ukraine and excludes the deployment of forces, and Russia renews its rejection of confrontation and NATO expansion

Washington announced that it will send light weapons to Ukraine, but it has ruled out deploying forces there, coinciding with diplomatic contacts it is conducting with European countries, and Russia has renewed its fears of the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), stressing that it does not seek confrontation.

US Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said that this week Ukraine will receive US light weapons and ammunition, as part of an aid package that was previously approved.

Kirby added in a press conference that the United States has not yet reached the stage of deploying more American forces and equipment to strengthen Washington’s allies and support them in the face of Russia.

In the same context, the White House announced yesterday, Wednesday, that President Joe Biden will brief the leaders of nine eastern European countries that are members of NATO on Thursday about the results of closed talks he held with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

And the White House said – in a statement – that Biden will listen to the views of the leaders of the Bucharest Group countries on the current security situation, and will affirm the United States’ commitment to transatlantic security.

The Bucharest group includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, all of which are allies of Washington on the eastern side of NATO.

Biden and Putin held a closed virtual summit on Tuesday, which lasted for more than two hours, and focused mainly on the Ukraine file, NATO’s advance to the east, and Western accusations of Russia preparing to invade Ukraine.

John Kirby: The United States has not yet reached the stage of deploying more forces in Ukraine (Al-Jazeera)

Diplomatic contacts

According to a statement issued by the US State Department, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had a telephone conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in which he discussed the Russian escalation against Ukraine.

The statement indicated that the officials discussed the Biden and Putin summit, and NATO options in response to the escalating Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The US State Department also issued a statement stating that Blinken held similar discussions with European Council President Charles Michel, where Blinken and Michel reiterated the United States and the European Union’s support for “Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.”

“They also shared their concerns about Russia’s build-up of its forces around Ukraine, and stressed that it would be better for Moscow to de-escalate and return to diplomacy to resolve the conflict in Donbas (eastern Ukraine), including the full implementation of the Minsk agreements,” the statement continued.

The statement indicated that Blinken and Michel also spoke of “Russia will pay a quick and serious price” if it escalates against Ukraine.

On the same front, the US General Staff issued a statement stating that the Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, spoke by phone separately with his French counterparts, Thierry Burkard, and Poland’s Ragmund Andrzejjak.

The statement explained that Milly and Andrzejjak “discussed common interests and joint assessments of the current security environment in Eastern Europe, noting that Poland is a strong ally committed to NATO’s deterrence and defense efforts in Europe and security efforts around the world.”

The other contact with Burchard discussed regional security.

The statement stressed that “the long-standing alliance between the US and French militaries plays a critical role in maintaining peace and stability in Europe and other parts of the world.”

European pressure

Diplomatic pressure on Russia intensified with new German Chancellor Olaf Schulz warning of “consequences” for the Nord Stream-2 pipeline, a massive Russian project to deliver natural gas to Germany.

In response to a question about whether he is ready to use the gas pipeline as a pressure card on Moscow if Russian forces invade Ukraine, Schultz said, “Our position is very clear, we want the sanctity of the borders to be respected by everyone, and for each party to understand that if this does not happen, there will be consequences.” .

After the meeting with Putin, the White House had indicated that stopping the gas pipeline could be part of the economic response, although this issue is controversial in Europe, which relies heavily on Russian gas.

In turn, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russia would face “strategic and huge consequences” when it invaded its neighbor.

On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be a “strategic mistake”, and stressed that Britain “stands with Ukraine in the face of this aggression.”

Russia’s fears

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a press conference with the Greek Prime Minister in Sochi, expressed his country’s hope that Moscow’s concerns would be heeded this time, explaining his belief that Ukraine would deploy additional weapons if it joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Putin said that NATO is following a clear confrontational approach with Russia, stressing that his country does not seek confrontation.

He added that he agreed with Biden to talk in detail in the future on the issue of security.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Vyacheslav Nikonov, First Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, denied any intention of his country to invade Ukraine, and said that the Russian forces are far from the Ukrainian borders and are not for combat purposes.

He added, “If Russia wanted this, no one would know about it, and it would not have used tanks or ground forces in this military operation.”

“During the summit, Biden sent messages to Putin, but he also received clear messages from the Russian president about the Ukrainian crisis,” Nikonov said.

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