US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in an interview said he does not believe the conflict in Ukraine is a proxy war between the United States and Russia.
Since Russia launched its military operation in February, the US has provided at least $3.7 billion to support Ukraine's defenses, with at least 30 other countries giving another $1.3 billion, the White House said earlier on Tuesday.
"We're not in a fight with Russia," Austin told Fox News in an interview that aired on Tuesday. "Ukraine is in a current struggle with Russia."
Despite the amount of security aide provided to Ukraine, Austin insisted that the conflict is not turning into a proxy war.
"It's not, this is clearly Ukraine's fight," Austin said when asked if the conflict in Ukraine might turn into a proxy war. "Ukraine's neighbors and allies and partners are stepping up to make sure that they have what they need in order to be successful."
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Austin announced that the United States will provide $713 million in foreign military aid to Ukraine and over a dozen other countries to purchase new weapons or to compensate for the arms they provided to Ukraine. Some $322 million in military assistance will be allocated to Ukraine from this package.
This is on top of the assistance President Joe Biden announced last week that the United States is providing Ukraine with another $800 million security aid package. The Defense Department said the new US security aid package would include 72 Howitzers, 144,000 of artillery rounds, more than 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones as well as parts and other equipment.
Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24 in response to calls from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics for protection against intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops. The Russian Defense Ministry said the special operation, which targets Ukrainian military infrastructure, aims to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine. Moscow has said it has no plans to occupy Ukraine. Western nations have imposed numerous sanctions on Russia.
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