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U.S. Doesn't Want Warfare in Ukraine to Escalate, Says DOD Official

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III thanked Poland's willingness to continue to look for ways to assist Ukraine, but he stressed that the U.S. does not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time, said a Defense Department official.  


Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby spoke at a press conference today.  

"The best way to support Ukrainian defense is by providing them the weapons and the systems that they need most to defeat Russian aggression; in particular, anti-armor and air defense," he said.  

"We, along with other nations, continue to send them these weapons and we know that they're being used with great effect. The slowed Russian advance in the north. And the contested airspace over Ukraine is evidence alone of that," he said.  

An airman shoots a weapon into a barren field as another airman looks on.
Readiness Training
U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Operators assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing fire a M249 light machine gun during readiness training in Poland, March 2, 2022.
Photo By: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Izabella Workman
VIRIN: 220302-F-OA820-0807

Although Russian air capabilities are significant, their effectiveness has been limited due to Ukrainian strategic operational and tactical ground-based air defense systems, surface-to-air missiles and man-portable, air-defense systems, Kirby said.  

The Ukrainian Air Force currently has several squadrons of fully mission capable aircraft, he said.  

"We assess that adding aircraft to the Ukrainian inventory is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of Ukrainian Air Force relative to Russian capabilities," he said.  

A service member on ground directs a helicopter.
Dynamic Hoist Training
A pararescueman assigned to the 57th Rescue Squadron performs dynamic hoist training with an HH-60G Pave Hawk in Romania, March 4, 2022.
Photo By: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Noah Sudolcan
VIRIN: 220304-F-PB738-1125

The intelligence community has assessed that the transfer of MiG 29 jets to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory and could result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO, Kirby said.   

"We are grateful for the superb support and cooperation of our Polish allies who continue to host thousands of our troops," he said, along with millions of Ukrainian refugees.   

A jet sits on a runway.
Flight Line
A U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II aircraft from Royal Air Force Lakenheath rests on the flightline as a U.S. C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., at Amari Air Base, Estonia, Feb. 28, 2022.
Photo By: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Megan M. Beatty
VIRIN: 220228-F-YM277-1031

"Polish generosity is clearly on display for the whole world to see," he added.  

"We know the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as average Ukrainian citizens are defending their country with great skill and bravery. We will continue to look for ways to help them do that," he said. 

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