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US would ‘consult internationally’ before any response to Russian moves on Ukraine

Then-Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd J. Austin III before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C. Jan. 19, 2021. (EJ Hersom/DOD)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has suggested that any U.S. response to Russia’s actions toward Ukraine would be carried out in conjunction with the international community.

“Whatever we do will be done as a part of an international community,” Austin said on December 2 while on a visit to South Korea.

“The best case though is that we won’t see an incursion by the Soviet Union into the Ukraine,” he added, accidentally referring to Russia as the former Soviet Union.

Austin spoke after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm on December 2, warned Moscow to end its troop buildup near the Ukrainian border or face hard-hitting sanctions.

Asked whether the U.S. reaction would be strictly economic, Austin declined to answer directly, saying only that the “best methods” would be used.

Austin also called on Moscow to be transparent about its military buildup and voiced hope that the United States and Russia could work to “resolve issues and concerns and lower the temperature in the region.”

Austin spoke to reporters after talks with his South Korean counterpart, Suh Wook. They said they planned to update contingency war plans and review their combined military command while urging North Korea to return to diplomacy.

The United States called on the North to engage in dialogue, Austin said, adding that diplomacy is the best approach to pursue with North Korea, backed up by a credible deterrent.

The changing security environment prompted the United States and South Korea to agree to update long-standing operational planning for a potential conflict with North Korea, as well as review their combined military command, Suh said.

North Korea has continued to rebuff U.S. attempts to kick-start diplomacy since President Joe Biden took office after his predecessor, President Donald Trump, had multiple meetings with leader Kim Jong-un.