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Putin Adds Military Capabilities in Belarus, Russian Border With Ukraine, Kirby Says

Over the last couple of days, Russian President Vladimir Putin has added additional military capability along his border with Ukraine, as well as in the Belarus area that borders Ukraine, said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby, who briefed the media today. 

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Among those added assets, he said, are combined arms capabilities that include: artillery; air and missile defense; landing craft in the Black Sea; infantry; armor; offensive air; special operations; logistics and sustainment; cyber; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. 

The United States is being very transparent with Kyiv about its intelligence assessments of those Russian forces, he said. 

A U.S. soldier in a parked tank talks to a foreign soldier in an adjacent tank.
Tank Talk
A U.S. soldier of 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment, Battle Group Poland, chats with a Romanian soldier as the pair line up respective battle fighting vehicles Feb. 12, 2022, during a hand over, take over ceremony at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland.
Photo By: Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza
VIRIN: 220212-Z-WM549-1014

"[Putin] continues to do the things that you would expect one to do if one were planning on a major military action, that is, to sharpen the readiness and to add to the capabilities of his force," Kirby said. 

"We obviously don't want that to be the outcome, and neither do Ukrainians and certainly neither do our NATO allies," he added. 

A plane taxis on a runway.
Eagle Parking
An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron taxis to a parking space after a local area familiarization flight in support of the NATO operations at Lask Air Base, Poland, Feb. 11, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob Albers
VIRIN: 220211-F-TL453-0362

Russian Foreign Minister Sergeĭ Lavrov seemed to indicate earlier today that he still thinks there's room for diplomacy, Kirby said. "We would welcome a pursuit of that path by the Russians, because we, too, believe that there still should be and can be a diplomatic path forward." 

Should Putin decide to invade, many Russian and Ukrainian lives would be lost, Kirby said. Russia can deescalate immediately and take a diplomatic path forward. "It's within Mr. Putin's power to make the right decision now. And obviously, we hope to see him do that." 

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