Kiev: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that he hopes Russian losses in Ukraine will deter its leadership from repeating its actions elsewhere, BBC reported. Ukraine can still win the war if given the right support, he added.
He also announced that the US would allocate an extra $713 million of military aid to Ukraine and other European nations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of attempting to “split the Russian society and destroy Russia from within”.
Austin, a retired four-star general, was speaking after meeting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev. Also involving Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the visit marked the highest-level trip to Ukraine by US officials since the invasion began over two months ago, BBC reported.
The meeting between the US and Ukrainian parties, which ran for over three hours, came as Russia escalates its military campaign in the south and east of the country.
At a news conference in Poland after the visit, Austin told reporters that the US wants to see “Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done by invading Ukraine”.
The Pentagon chief added that US officials still believed Ukraine could win the conflict with “the right equipment” and the “right support”.
Austin’s comments calling for a weakened Russia were unusually strong for a US Defence Secretary.
It is one thing to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression, it is quite another to speak of weakening Russia’s capabilities, he said, BBC reported.
Putin’s accusations of the West attempting to “destroy Russia”, made during a speech on Monday, appeared to be in response to Austin’s comments.