By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Nov. 10, 2021) -- With Russian activities in Eastern Europe increasing, including a buildup of forces near the Ukrainian border, Moscow must be more transparent about what its intentions are there, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.
"What we continue to see is unusual military activity inside Russia, but near Ukraine's borders, and we remain concerned about that. It's not exactly clear what the Russian intentions are," Kirby said during a briefing today at the Pentagon. "We obviously would like to better understand that. And we don't want to see any action further destabilize what is already a very tense part of the world. And we urge Russia to be clear about their intentions and to abide by their Minsk agreements."
According to the Ukraine Ministry of Defence in a report published last week on their website, their intelligence service indicated a force of about 90,000 Russian troops concentrated near the Ukraine border. Those troops, the report said, include elements of the Russian Federation's 8th and 20th armies and parts of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Air force elements were also present, the report said.
"It's unusual because of the size and the scope, and it's got our attention, no question about that," Kirby told reporters.
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to conduct operations in the region as part of being a NATO partner nation, Kirby said -- and will continue to do so.
"As a NATO ally ourselves ... we will continue to fly, sail and operate in international airspace and international waters as appropriate," Kirby said. "We'll continue to do that. There's a couple of U.S. Navy ships in the Black Sea as we speak. And we believe that's an important principle to stand up for."
Kirby said he sees no linkage right now between the operations the U.S. is conducting in Europe as a NATO partner and what the Russians are doing near the Ukraine border.
"As you heard Secretary Austin say many times when we were in Europe just a couple of weeks ago, our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is unwavering," he said.