From today’s edition of U.S. European Command’s webpage. European Command’s top military commander is also that of NATO. The rhetoric emanating from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in recent days – claiming Russia occupies 20% of Georgian territory while he was in Georgia, stating Russia started and is continuing the seven-year war in the Donbass while in Ukraine – and the following from the Pentagon is the harshest denunciation of alleged Russian military aggression that I can remember in my seventy years. For the record, notwithstanding what is asserted below Russia never invaded Abkhazia or South Ossetia nor did it start a war in Eastern Ukraine.
In 2014, Russia occupied and illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine and then fomented a war in Eastern Ukraine that has so far killed 14,000 Ukrainians.
In 2008, Russia invaded the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia – 20 percent of the nation’s land mass.
All nations were shocked by the Russian moves, and the dream of seeing a Europe “whole, free and at peace,” that had seemed possible with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, suffered a blow.
…Russia still occupies the Georgian provinces and Russian troops still kill Ukrainians in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin still insists Crimea is part of Russia.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is visiting the frontline states of Georgia, Ukraine and Romania before traveling to Belgium for the NATO Defense Ministerial Meeting in Brussels.
Part of his trip is to reassure allies of America’s commitment to the Trans-Atlantic Alliance. Part is to reassure specific allies of America’s “unwavering support” of their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The framework addresses the gorilla in the room: Russia. “First and foremost, we are committing to assistance that will help the Ukrainian counter Russian aggression,” said the senior official. “This relates to our extensive training mission that kicked off in 2015, after the Russian invasion, and has grown ever since.”
The United States has about 150 troops at a Ukrainian military center in the western part of the country that are conducting the training mission. The framework continues this mission to expand Ukraine’s military capabilities.