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U.S. Calling on Russia to Lower Tensions With Ukraine, DOD Official Says

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The United States is calling on Russia to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and not provoke or increase tensions, said the Pentagon press secretary.

John F. Kirby spoke to reporters at the Pentagon today about Ukraine and a number of other places.

Aircraft fly in formation.
Bomber Mission
A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., integrates with two Ukrainian SU-27s during a Bomber Task Force Europe mission over the United Kingdom, Sept. 23, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Xavier Navarro
VIRIN: 200923-F-LG053-0785C

It's difficult to speak about Russian intent, Kirby said, noting that they have a troop buildup in Crimea and in other areas on the border of the two nations to the southeast.

The U.S. is continuing to monitor the situation there, he said, adding that the U.S. has provided Ukraine with non-lethal and lethal items that allow them to better defend themselves.

"We continue to call for the ceasefires that were called for by the Minsk Agreement, and then … to bring the temperature down, to de-escalate," Kirby said.

Troops exit a helicopter.
Chopper Exit
Ukrainian special forces and a U.S. Air Force airman exit a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a raid at Exercise Combined Resolve 14 at Hohenfels, Germany, Sept. 24, 2020.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Patrik Orcutt
VIRIN: 200924-Z-JY390-289

Syria and Iraq

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria remains a threat in Iraq and Syria, albeit a much diminished threat from its peak in 2014, Kirby said.

Kirby noted that the Syrian Democratic Forces have successfully executed a series of operations to arrest or kill ISIS fighters, particularly in the al-Hawl area of northeastern Syria, where more than 125 were detained by the SDF. "We certainly congratulate them on a successful operation, and we'll continue to support them in the mission to defeat ISIS."

Kirby added that the U.S. also supports Iraq in its efforts to degrade and eradicate ISIS.

Tanks move through the desert.
Tank Patrol
Soldiers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, patrol in Syria, March 11, 2021.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Torrance Saunders
VIRIN: 210311-A-OD115-0001A


U.S. special operations forces have been training Mozambique Marines, Kirby said, noting that the purpose of the training is to improve that nation's counterterrorism capability.

The training program, which is called joint combined exchange training, began March 15 and will last for two months, he said.

Troops offload relief supplies from a helicopter.
Humanitarian Delivery
Army Maj. Eric Buendia, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, helps unload humanitarian aid from a World Food Programme helicopter in Bebado, Mozambique during humanitarian relief efforts following Cyclone Idai, April 8, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Corban Lundborg
VIRIN: 190408-F-IZ285-0426A

China and Taiwan

The U.S. is monitoring Chinese naval exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan, Kirby said.

Nothing has changed with regard to U.S. support for the so-called "One China Policy," he said. The U.S. continues to provide Taiwan with self-defense capabilities.

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