The United States is reaching out to allies in response to Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke on the phone with Polish National Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszak on Tuesday and discussed what the Pentagon has repeatedly described as Moscow’s “unusual military activity”.
The two also shared concerns about the situation at Poland’s border with Belarus, where Polish officials have accused the Belarus regime of using thousands of migrants to escalate tensions.
According to a readout of the call from the US Department of Defense, they “discussed ways to increase NATO’s resistance on the east coast”.
Austin called on his way to Seoul to hold talks with his South Korean counterpart.
Ukrainian intelligence officials say Russia has deployed some 90,000 troops to the border between Ukraine and Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Several US officials have said Washington and its European allies are planning “multiple contingencies”, fearing that Moscow’s saber-rattling could be more than hard talk.
US officials have called US support for Ukraine “rock solid” and are considering a number of tools to deter Moscow.
Separately, a top British intelligence official warned on Tuesday that Moscow is increasingly engaging in “shameless activity”.
“We and our allies and partners must stand up to Russian activity and violations of the rules-based international system,” MI6 Chief Richard Moore said during a speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
“Moscow should have no doubt in our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders, including Crimea,” Moore said.
Russian officials, for their part, have accused the US and its allies of creating tension in the region.
Russia’s TASS news agency last week quoted Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying that Moscow is “noticing a significant increase in the activity of US strategic bombers near Russian borders.”
Shoigu also alleged that US strategic bombers “practiced the actual simultaneous use of nuclear weapons against Russia from the western and eastern directions.”
The US has provided $2.5 billion in security aid to Ukraine since 2014, including $400 million in 2021 alone.
Recent deliveries include patrol boats for the Ukrainian Navy and 80,000 kg of ammunition for the Ukrainian forces.