Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

‘Stand Down,’ Milley Warns Russia

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley pressed the U.S. position Friday that the Russian-Ukrainian crisis could still be solved without war breaking out, even as thousands of U.S. troops have been put on high alert and Russia has primed its own forces for invasion.

“Conflict is not inevitable. There’s still time and space for diplomacy,” Austin said in a rare joint press conference at the Pentagon with Milley, President Joe Biden’s senior military advisor.

For weeks the White House and State Department have expressed a desire to reach a diplomatic resolution to the current crisis, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed more than 100,000 forces along Ukraine’s Eastern and Northern borders. Putin has sought a moratorium on Ukraine joining NATO; NATO has maintained an open door policy to new members, which has driven talk that war is imminent.

“We strongly encourage Russia to stand down and to pursue a resolution through diplomacy,” Milley said.

U.S. troops have been put on alert, but they haven’t been moved forward. Austin said the United States is sensitive to how massive troop movements could potentially further inflame the situation.

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