Transcript

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby Holds a Press Briefing

Jan. 27, 2022

PRESS SECRETARY JOHN F. KIRBY: OK, I think you're aware that this afternoon the Secretary issued a memo directing the Department of Defense to provide him with a Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan within the next 90 days.

This action plan outlines the steps that Department will take and the resources that will be required to implement appropriate recommendations from recently completed studies of civilian harm. Studies that were sponsored by DOD. The protection of civilians remains vital to the ultimate success of our operations.

And as the Secretary has noted on more than one occasion, it is a strategic and a moral imperative. The memo if it's not posted right now, it will be posted very, very soon. I know that you guys have been able to talk to some folks about it. So, I'm happy to engage questions on it as we go forward today, but I do encourage you to take a look at it.

As some of you may also be aware, the Department has issued guidance, pausing all activities related to processing civilian vaccination exemption requests and any disciplinary actions for failure to become vaccinated for federal civilian workers. This guidance ensures compliance with a nationwide preliminary injunction order issued on Friday the 21st of January by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

This injunction does not extend to military members or to the Department's other force health protection measures such as masking, testing, physical distancing, and travel limitations.

And then finally, yesterday marked the beginning of exercise Keen Edge 22 with members of the Japan Joint Staff. U.S. Forces, Japan, and U.S. Indo Pacific Command. This annual bilateral exercise is designed to deepen relationships between the U.S. and Japan, and to improve interagency coordination, combat readiness, and interoperability between our two nations. It's taking place from the 26th of January through the third of February. And the primary exercise locations are Yokota Air Base, Headquarters U.S. Forces Japan, Ministry of Defense in Tokyo, Japan Self Defense Force Headquarters, and Camp Smith Hawaii, U.S. IndoPacific Command Headquarters.

Keen-Edge is a regularly scheduled exercise that achieves mutual security objectives and achieves - and strengthens U.S. Japan military interoperability.

And with that, we'll go to questions. I think, Lita, you are on the phone if I have this, right.

Q: Yes. Thanks, John. On Ukraine a couple of questions, please. Are you still going to be able to release the units that will be heading to - for the NATO Response Force? And to give us an idea of what percentage of those are in the NATO Response Force and which, and how many or what percentage perhaps, are going to be sort of unilateral support to allies?

And then secondly, can you, both the Secretary and the Chairman yesterday spoke with their Polish counterparts. Is Poland a priority in some of this military troop decision making? Will you be sending additional troops to Poland? Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: Yes. So, as you know, we talked about, the Secretary did place a range of units in the United States on a heightened preparedness to deploy. I can say that today that these units include elements of the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg. Which regularly I think you all know maintains high readiness, as well as elements of the 18th Airborne Corps, also based at Fort Bragg and some elements from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Additionally, from Fort Campbell, elements of the 101st Airborne Division, and from Fort Carson, Colorado, elements of the Fourth Infantry Division, have also been placed on increased readiness. Now, we were not going to, and we don't intend to provide an exhaustive list of every unit that's being placed on prepare to deploy orders.

But I can say that other units that will now have an increased readiness posture include elements from Fort Carson as I said, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Fort Hood, Texas, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Fort Polk, Louisiana, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, Fort Stewart, Georgia, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio and select additional locations in the United States. These units, all told, include medical support, aviation support, logistics support, and of course, combat formations.

I want to just underscore one other note. And that is, as I said many times earlier this week, these forces are on a heightened preparedness to deploy. They have not been activated. As to your other question on the percentage, I don't have that. But as I've said before, the vast majority of the troops that the Secretary put on prepare to deploy are in fact, dedicated to the NATO Response Force.

And if and when they're activated, we'll be able to provide more specific detail in terms of breakdowns in numbers going forward. On your question about Poland. He enjoyed his conversation with his Polish counterpart yesterday, lots to talk about, as you might imagine. I don't have any specific decisions with respect to U.S Force presence or posture to read out here today.

But rest assured if there is something like that, to be able to speak to and to announce we'll obviously do that. Jen.

Q: John, President Zelensky, has said that he's grateful for military aid, but he's not getting what they really asked for, which is air defense systems, anti-aircraft missiles. The kind of things that could take on the Russian Air Force, not just tanks and ammunition on the ground. Why is the Pentagon refusing to send that kind of weaponry to Ukraine when it's such a crucial time right now as they prepare to defend themselves?

MR. KIRBY: I will tell you, I mean Jen, we talked about the fact that we had an air and missile defense assessment team over there not long ago - in the last month or so. And they had extensive conversations with their Ukrainian counterparts about those very kinds of capability concerns. This is an iterative process, it's ongoing. We've already sent over three shipments, there are more coming.

I'm not going to get ahead of any - of all that. And I'm not going to speak with great specificity here in terms of the exact systems that are being provided to Ukraine. We are in constant communication with them about their needs and capabilities. And I suspect that those conversations will continue.

Q: So, when are those weapons going to start arriving?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not promising any specific weapon here from the podium or a timeline for it. We have shipped already three packages in this latest draw down package to Ukraine. There are more coming, and I suspect in fairly short order. And we're specifically not detailing every item that are in the shipments.

I think you can understand why we would want to be careful about advertising publicly the kinds of capabilities that were given to Ukraine. Given the size and the scale, and the capabilities that are arrayed against them on the other side of their border.

Q: Just seems like this is the 11th hour. What is taking so long?

MR. KIRBY: There's no 11th hour here, Jen, we've been providing, in the last year alone, we have provided many millions dollars' worth of capabilities to Ukraine. 60 million just in the - over the course of the spring. And then in December, President Biden authorized another 200 million. And that's on top of work that two previous administrations have been doing to help bolster the self-defense capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

So, there's no 11th hour here at all. We've been watching this build up over time. That is why we got the 60 million there. We are actually looking at ways we can accelerate some of the shipments that are to come as part of this $200 million package. Because we see this continued build up by Russian forces in the western part of their country and in Belarus.

But I take issue with the idea that this is sort of 11th hour, hail Mary pass throw and stuff.

Q: I don't know how you can take issue with the 11th hour when there are senior leaders here and the President have called a Russian invasion imminent?

MR. KIRBY: The fact that it is possible that it's imminent doesn't mean that we just woke up to the fact that they had been building forces. We've been talking about this now for a couple of months what we've been seeing on the ground. And there have been lots of conversations with us and our NATO allies, as well as our Ukrainian counterparts.

We've read all those out, you can go back and look at the readouts. And it's not like any of this came as some sort of shock. But we have, as we've continued to see the accumulation of combat power. And as we have now seen, that so far, anyway, Mr. Putin has not elected to de-escalate. And, you know, look, there's - we still believe there's time and space for diplomacy.

But thus far, it has not achieved the kind of results that the international community would like to see. All that combined, has led us to, you know, again, want to contribute more capabilities to Ukrainian Armed Forces and be ready to contribute more capabilities to our NATO allies. Sylvie.

Q: Thank you, John. First, I want to know if you have noticed any change in the Russian posture, military posture around Ukraine in the last few days? And then you said Tuesday that all the 8,500 troops were coming from U.S. But Secretary Blinken said yesterday that they were coming from U.S., and some were stationed in Europe. So, I wanted to know exactly what is what? And what is the proportion of combat troops in this 8,500?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not going to get into a breakdown, I've gone and given you as much detail about the forces that the Secretary put on prepare to deploy orders that I'm comfortable doing right now. As for Russian buildup, we continue to see, including in the last 24 hours, more accumulation of credible combat forces arrayed by the Russians, in again, the western part of their country and in Belarus.

So, without getting into a tick tock every day of how much more we're seeing, we continue to see him add to that capability. Not dramatic, as I said the other day, also not sclerotic. And then on the breakdown, as I said, on Monday, these troops that we talked about this 8,500, on Monday, were coming from stateside facilities, and I just read through the entire list of where they're coming from.

But I've also said Sylvie, and this gets at Secretary Blinken's comments that we’re not taking off the table the possibility of using forces that are already in Europe. Whom many of - many of whom are already on an accelerated readiness posture. Not all but some. Some are there on rotational deployments. Some are permanently based there.

We've not ruled off the table that the idea of maybe using some of them to also bolster our NATO allies if they need that. So, it most likely, should there be a movement of American Forces on allied territory acute - a growth, in that, an increase. It's entirely likely that some of that will be achieved through using organic capabilities that General Wolters already has on the European continent. Janne.

Q: Thank you, John. U.S. and South Korea military exercises. You said that the U.S. and Japan are conducting the regular military exercises. When will the U.S. and South Korea joint military exercises resume normally?

MR. KIRBY: I don't have an update for you on the U.S. South Korea exercise regimen. I would point you to the U.S. Forces Korea for more information about their exercise regime. I think, you know, we've talked about this many times, just like we're doing with Japan, we tailor exercises for the capabilities that we want to improve for the threats and challenges in the region and in the area.

And we don't do these things in a vacuum. We don't do them in a vacuum with respect to what's going on in the region and around the world. And we don't do it in a vacuum when it comes to our allies. The Japanese are also our allies. And just like with the South Koreans, we're going to continue to consult with our allies as we move forward with training events.

Q: Another question. North Korea's been firing missiles almost every four days this month, but you know that.

MR. KIRBY: Yes, I do. You won't let me forget.

Q: It's my job. You never know what - how many they're going to do. Why is the United States focused on the Ukraine crisis and possibility of China's invasion of Taiwan, and North Korea provocation actions are helping China and Russia?

My question is, how is the United States – win win strategy working in response to these multiple operations? I think win win strategy (inaudible) the former Secretary Rumsfeld had these kind of strategic (inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: You mean, like the old construct of being able to win two major wars and - yes?

Q: (Inaudible) different names or what?

MR. KIRBY: So, I not sure you mean it this way. I'm obviously not going to preview the National Defense Strategy, which we're still working on. So, when you talk about Secretary Rumsfeld, you know, win two major conflicts. I think that's the construct, you're talking about what used to be in National Defense Strategies past. We are working on a new one now.

We hope to be able to talk about that with you all a little bit later. I'm not going to preview here from the podium, what's in it. It's still in draft, still being worked. But the gist, I think of your question is, why can't we walk and chew gum at the same time? And we can, and we are, just because we're focused on bolstering our NATO allies in Europe right now, given the worrisome accumulation of combat credible power by the Russians, in and around Ukraine, doesn't mean that we aren't still focused on the pacing challenge that China represents to the Department. You've heard the Secretary talk about that, he continues to have regular drumbeat meetings, which he chairs, on the China Pacing Challenge, and exploring operational concepts for how we can better meet that challenge.

It doesn't mean we're not talking about integrated deterrence not just in the Indo Pacific but around the world. It doesn't mean that, and you've heard me talk about I don't know how many times over the last few days, the continual threats and challenges in the Middle East. And certainly, we're mindful of the destabilizing behavior by Pyongyang with respect to these recent tests.

As a matter of fact, on nearly every single one of them, we issue a statement. And we make it clear that we're condemning these attacks. And we continue to call on the North Korean regime to stop these provocations. Which in many cases, violate existing UN Security Council resolutions,that the whole international community should be signing up too.

So, Janne, I mean, I appreciate the question, but what we're - there's a lot on our plate. And we're focused on all of it. Just because right now, one issue, obviously is certainly capturing the attention of the world community doesn't mean that we're not equally pursuing and focused on other threats and challenges to the country. If you go back and look at the memo that the Secretary issued, you know, within just a couple of weeks of taking office, he stated very clearly, his number one priority is to defend this nation against all threats and challenges. And that's what we're doing.

I think, maybe go to the phone here. I got a lot of people out of people here. Joe Gould from Defense News. OK, nothing heard. Jared Szuba, Al Monitor?

Q: Hi, Mr. Kirby. Just wondered if you could tell us a little bit more about this directive from Secretary Austin on civilian casualties. How does this build upon - does this incorporate any conclusions, or you know, how does this relate to the previous inquiries pushed by previous Secretary Mattis and Esper? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: It's informed by the work that has gone before, clearly, by both Secretary Mattis and Secretary Esper. But I would say, you know, just philosophically even before that, I mean, you have to remember the Secretary was a ground commander in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not an issue that he's not familiar with.

So, it's informed by a lot, specifically the memo that you'll see today. And the decisions that he has made in terms of standing up a Civilian Harm Mitigation Team, as well as ordering the establishment of a center of excellence, and some additional immediate steps, which you'll see in the memo. Those are more specifically informed by recent studies, independent, and as well as Departmental reviews writ large. Such as the RAND assessment that was legislated by Congress.

And I think that you've also gotten a briefing on that today. As well as more specific strike investigations and strike review. So, I would point you to and there's a mention of that in the memo, that of what's informing it, but there's a lot there. In fact, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that some of the thinking that's going into the ways the Secretary wants to have a more structural implementation of changes, is also quite frankly informed by some recent press reporting. And it would be wrong for us not to also mention that. Jeff Schogol.

Q: Thank you. I think you mentioned that elements at Davis-Monthan had been put on heightened alert. Does that mean that A-10s have been told they may have to go to Europe?

MR. KIRBY: I am not going into any more detail than what I gave you, Jeff. I described the units to the level of detail that we're comfortable doing. Let's see I already got Lita. Fadi?

Q: Thank you, John. I have a question about Monday's attack on Al Dhafra Airbase. So since that attack, did the Department or U.S. forces in the region take any additional measures to enhance force protection? And is the Pentagon considering or considered any new measures to detect and prevent any future threats from the Houthis? Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: I would tell you. You know Fadi, we don't talk about specific force protection. But I will go so far as to let you know that U.S. forces there in and around Al Dhafra remain at a heightened state of alert. I think that's as far as I will go. As for any changes going forward, and obviously, we will rely on the good judgment of General McKenzie and his chain of command in terms of what specific changes they think they might need to make in terms of defenses. But again, we wouldn't detail that from the podium, Luis Martinez.

Q: Hi, John. Earlier this week, there was a crash of an F-35C, on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. The Navy says that they're beginning arrangements to try to recover it. Is there anything new on that? And can you address any concerns about maybe trying to protect the waters where this plane may have fallen into so that other nations, mainly China don't get their hands on it?

MR. KIRBY: Yes, you probably have seen the Navy's statement, they do intend to attempt a recovery of the aircraft. I want to say right off the top that we have received word that those who were injured are doing better, and we're absolutely delighted to hear that and continue to hope for a speedy and safe recovery for them. And our hearts are with them and their families right now.

I won't speak to specific recovery efforts by the Navy, I think they're far better to do that than I am. But we're certainly mindful of the value of an F-35, in every respect of what value means. And as we continue to attempt recovery of the aircraft, we're going to do it obviously with safety foremost in mind. But clearly, our own national security interests, and I think I’ll just leave it at that. Paul Shinkman.

Q: Hi, John. Russia announced yesterday that it had deployed 20 or so warships into the Black Sea for supposed exercises as part of broader maritime exercises this month and next. Do you consider this to be a part of the troop buildup that you've criticized in recent days, recent weeks? And regardless does the U.S. have any concern about destabilizing action at the Kerch Strait or elsewhere in the region?

MR. KIRBY: Thank you. Yeah, I don't have anything specific on the Kerch Strait. Kerch Strait - Kerch Strait. Sorry, I'll try that again, Kursk* Strait. But we continue to see an accumulation of Russian military power, again, around and alongside the border of Ukraine and Belarus. And I mentioned this the other day, and vaval power in the Mediterranean, and in the Atlantic, and clearly the Black Sea.

So, I can't speak to their exercise, they should be able to talk to their exercises the way I just did at the top of this briefing. But we have noted and continue to watch increasing naval developments on the Russian side as well. All of this - all of this activity is what leads to our concern over Russian intentions here, which again, as always remain opaque. David Martin, CBS.

Q: John, you said entirely likely that if there is a plus up to Europe, some of that plus up could come from troops that are already - I should say, plus up on the eastern flank of Europe. Some of those - that plus up could come from troops already in Europe. Have any units in Europe been given prepare to deploy orders?

MR. KIRBY: Many of the rotational troops are already on a heightened posture, David. I believe that General Wolters is taking prudent steps to make sure that if we need to move forces from inside Europe to other places in Europe, in allied territory, that he's ready to do that. The prepare to deploy orders that I spoke about the other day, again, were confined to U.S. domestic units.

But as I said to Sylvie, we're absolutely not ruling out the possibility that forces in Europe could also be moved in to help bolster the capabilities of NATO allies. And, again, some of these units are already on a heightened state of readiness. I don't know of specific orders that General Wolters has given to increase the readiness posture of other units in Europe.

But again, I just want to go back to a core principle here. We take our NATO commitment seriously. And we're going to be consulting with allies, as we have been, certainly in coming days. And if there's an - if there's ways in which we can help bolster their capabilities, to help their defensive postures, we're going to take a serious look at that. And not all of that has to come, or necessarily will come, just from just from state side. Yes, Tom.

Q: Hi, John. I have three quick follow ups to questions asked earlier. One, on just what you said about General Wolters. Does he have the ability to put troops on heightened alert without the Secretary doing it? In other words, what Secretary Austin did the orders for here, General Wolters can do that in Europe?

MR. KIRBY: As a combatant commander of European Command, he can move forces around intratheater at his own discretion. Yes. I think though, you can understand that when we're talking about an issue of this importance, that there is a constant dialogue between General Wolters and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as well as the Secretary.

So, I wouldn't expect there to be any surprises. The Secretary can also order posture changes in Europe because he is at the top of the chain of command. So, it's, I know we like to, not you, but some people like to just, you know, go to what exactly can the commander do without permission? There are things he can do, but again, with a situation like what we're talking about today. There's a lot of cross pollination and talking.

Q: I wasn't trying to...

MR. KIRBY: I know you weren't. I know you weren't, I just wanted to make that point.

Q: And the other two follow-ups real quick. On the F-35 that Luis brought up, CHINFO was little bit opaque in responding as to whether that - if any other nation can actually get the F-35. It's under my impression that that's U.S. territory. I mean U.S. property and no one else can sort of salvage that. What's your understanding of that?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not a, I'm not a lawyer, but it is U.S. property. And the Navy's going to make an attempt to recover it.

Q: And finally, one of Jen's questions regarding the anti-aircraft weapons and you know, you don't want to disclose everything. In the briefing last week, you said one of the key reasons troops may go to Eastern Europe to bolster our allies there is to show the Russians the determination. And to sort of dissuade them of perhaps adventurism. Would not have - would not the Russians knowing there are some anti-aircraft weapons, aiming at their potential planes, help dissuade them from attacking?

MR. KIRBY: There's lots of things that we would like to dissuade them from doing what they clearly have the capability to do. I'm not going to speak about specific systems. I just won't do that Tom. But the United States has been nothing but clear about the importance of Russia not conducting another incursion into Ukraine, and the consequences that would come from that.

At the same time, we have two other responsibilities that we take seriously. One is, of course, to NATO, and to our Article Five commitments inside of the Alliance. And number two is to helping through security assistance, helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces better defend themselves. We are just at the beginning of a whole new package of assistance material. As I said, there's been three shipments, there are more that will be coming.

We're trying to see if we can accelerate them. We're not going to detail what is in each and every shipment. But there will be both defensive and offensive capabilities inside those shipments. Mike.

Q: John about the NATO Response Force. So, I'm interested in it as an organization, who will command it? I know it’s under the control is SACEUR, but who actually will command it?

MR. KIRBY: Can I - I want to go back to when I said defensive and offensive, what I meant was lethal and non-lethal. Poor choice of words on my part.

Q: But there are putting...

MR. KIRBY: In the shipments both lethal and non-lethal assistance.

Q: Both offensive and defensive?

MR. KIRBY: Well, all designed to help Ukraine defend itself. That is what I meant to say, I'm glad I had the chance to correct that.

Q: So, who will command the NATO Response Force? Is it an ad hoc unit? Is it like a permanent unit with a structure in a location or is it an ad hoc...

MR. KIRBY: Well, ultimately...

Q: …that gets sort of formed as its needed?

MR. KIRBY: Ultimately, it's under the command of SACEUR in this case, General Wolters. It has not been activated. And so, the exact C2 relationships, I think, have yet to be worked out. And in the case that we get there, Mike, that's really a better question put to our colleagues at the Alliance. It's an alliance structure...

Q:  (inaudible) France is going to be...

MR. KIRBY: I don't even - I don't think they even - I don't think they've gotten that far yet. Since it hasn't been activated in terms of what the chain of command is going to be.

Q: … they are controlling this year, and...

MR. KIRBY: Again, Mike, you're asking the wrong guy. I don't - I'm not an expert on how the NATO Response Force is activated. And what the C2 looks like, command and control look like. I pointed to my colleagues in Brussels.

Q: For the 8,500 Americans, will there be an overall like American officer in charge? I'm assume it's mostly army and air force from the bases that you've said. Is there going to be like the whole - is it all 8500 going to possibly go over there? Will they be doled out?

MR. KIRBY: The 8,500 comprise our contribution to the NATO Response Force. And there are as I said at the opening, there's a myriad of capabilities in there everything from medical support to ground forces. How they're, if they're activated, how they're activated, and whether it's all in one chunk, or piece meal, based on what the Alliance feels, it needs the NRF to actually look like, I think is just yet to be determined. Yes. Oren.

Q: On civilian casualties, other than the review of the March 2019 strike in Baghuz, Syria, are there other open reviews or investigations of potential incidents of civilian casualties? And was there any review opened up after the recent U.S. and coalition strikes related to supporting the SDF near Hasakah Prison?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any other open investigations or reviews of allegations of civilian harm. And that would include the ongoing operation right now in Syria around the Hasakah Prison. Yes, Ellie.

Q: John, the President said he's not putting troops in Ukraine, but there are members as you mentioned, of the Florida National Guard, there right now. Is there any update to bringing them home? And if Russia invades, would it be too late to get them out?

MR. KIRBY: There's been no decision at this point to change their mission or their status, their posture inside Ukraine. The members of the Florida National Guard are still there, in an advisory and training capacity. As I've said, many times, their safety and security remain a paramount concern to the Secretary.

And if and when, we believe that for that safety and security, a decision needs to be made about moving them, the Secretary will not hesitate to do so. We are in constant communication with their chain of command, certainly with General Wolters, about his assessment of what's going on on the ground. I wouldn't get ahead of decisions that haven't been made yet.

But again, their safety and security is going to be a chief concern for the Secretary. And we're going to take their protection and their safety very seriously. It is not a very big number. I think it's around - less than 200. So, in the event that they had to be moved, we believe that can be done in a fairly expeditious manner.

Q: I was just curious because I know they're asking some Americans to leave Ukraine. So, I didn't know why wouldn't they be included?

MR. KIRBY: Well, the State Department's made it clear to American citizens civilians, that this is not the time to be going to Ukraine. And if they're in Ukraine, they're encouraging them to leave. I think you saw that they also have authorized the departure of - ordered the departure of some eligible family members.

But our diplomats are still at work in Kiev, and our trainers are still at work in Ukraine. We're going to watch this every single day. I can't speak for my State Department colleagues, but here at DOD, if and when the Secretary decides that it's time to move them out, we'll do that. And again, the numbers are not that big. This would not be a huge undertaking to do.

Q: One more. The number two at the State Department projected yesterday that there could be an invasion by mid-February. Are you seeing that same intelligence? And if so, how are you making preparations on that note?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not going to speculate on timing. We've always said, and said for quite some time that another incursion by Russia could be imminent. And imminent means imminent. So, we're watching this every single day. And I think I'm just going to avoid the temptation to guess as to what the timing would be. The only thing I'd add is, we still don't believe that there's been a final decision by Mr. Putin to launch another invasion.

We still believe here at the Department that there is time and space for diplomacy. I think you saw Secretary Blinken, they talked about this just the other day, and the State Department has, in fact responded with some written responses to the Russians. And so, we're waiting to hear their feedback on that. So, we still think there's time and space for diplomacy.

I think, obviously, that's the preferred path here to de-escalate in a peaceful, calm way. And destabilize without any shots being fired. But we're watching it every single day.

Q: Hi, John, sorry. Sorry, to interrupt but you said to Ellie that it's imminent. And you said to Jen, it's possibly imminent. Which is it?

MR. KIRBY: We - imminent.

Q: Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: But by imminent, I don't mean, I'm telling you, it's going to happen tomorrow. We've long said that an incursion could be imminent.

Q: That's why I like to make sure we were speaking the same.

MR. KIRBY: I think that's always a good idea, Tom. But, again, we're not we're not going to be predicting, here from the podium. We still believe there's time and space for diplomacy. We'd like to see a de-escalation. We'd like to see those troops go back home. And we'd like Mr. Putin to take the right steps to de-escalate the tensions. OK. I think I got everybody thanks very much.

*Ed. Note – Kerch Strait