Today, in response to Russia’s admission that it will not withdraw its forces from Belarus, I have authorized the additional movements of U.S. Forces and equipment already stationed in Europe, to strengthen our Baltic allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Let me be clear: These are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia. We want to send an unmistakable message, though, that the United States, together with our allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.
We still believe that Russia is poised to go much further in launching a massive military attack against Ukraine. I hope I’m wrong about that and I hope we’re wrong about that, but Russia has only escalated its threat against the rest of Ukrainian territory, including the major cities and the capital city of Kyiv. There are still well over 150,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine.
As I said, Russian forces remain positioned in Belarus to attack Ukraine from the north, including war planes and offensive missile systems. Russia’s moved troops closer to Ukraine’s border with Russia. Russia’s naval vessels are maneuvering in the Black Sea to Ukraine’s south including amphibious assault ships, missile cruisers and submarines. Russia’s moved supplies of blood and medical equipment into position on the border. You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war.
Over the last few days, we’ve seen much of the playbook that Secretary Blinken laid out last week in the United Nations Security Council come to pass. A major increase in military provocations, and false flag events along the line of contact in the Donbas, dramatically staged, conveniently on camera, meeting of Putin’s security council to grandstand for the Russian public. And now, political provocation of recognizing sovereign Ukrainian territory, so-called independent republics, in clear violation, again, of international law.
President Putin has sought authorization from the Russian Parliament to use military force outside of Russian territory. And this set the stage for further pretext of further provocations by Russia to try to justify further military action.
None of us, none of us should be fooled. None of us will be fooled. There is no justification. Further Russian assault of the Ukraine remains a severe threat in the days ahead. If Russia proceeds, it is Russia and Russia alone that bears the responsibility. As we respond, my administration is using every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers from rising prices at the pump.