Conflict in Ukraine 'not inevitable': Pentagon
Ukraine and the US seem to be at odds on whether or not Russia is going to "invade" its western neighbor.
Conflict in Ukraine could still be avoided, the chief of the United States military said Friday, despite the West accusing Russia of amassing over 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and provocating Moscow through ignoring its security guarantee demands.
"Conflict is not inevitable. There is still time and space for diplomacy," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin could do the "right thing" as well, adding that there is no clear reason that the situation in the region has to devolve into conflict.
"[Putin] can choose to deescalate. He can order his troops away," Austin asserted, though the United States is supplying Kyiv with arms and "lethal aids," a word adopted by the western media to whitewash the lethal weapons the United States and its western allies are delivering to Ukraine.
"Lethal aid" includes fighter jets, frigates, anti-tank missiles, munitions, anti-armor missiles, and various other weapons to be used against Russia.
Meanwhile, Russia insists that it has no intention of attacking any country, seeing the Western accusations as a pretext to deploy more NATO military equipment close to Russia's borders.
Russia had talks with the US and NATO in Geneva over each other's security concerns, and Russia sees that its demands have been ignored.
"The US and NATO responses still do not consider Russia's principal concerns, such as prevention of NATO expansion eastward, abandoning deployment of strike systems close to the Russian borders," Putin told Macron, a Kremlin readout of the call said.
Ukraine tells West not to panic over 'troop buildup'
President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Western leaders to avoid stirring "panic" in light of the accusations that Russia is amassing troops on the border with Ukraine.
Ukraine had denied reports of a Russian military buildup near its eastern border with its allies citing mounting concerns of a looming invasion.
Zelensky's plea came just after a phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who underlined Moscow intended to keep participating in negotiations with the hopes of de-escalating the situation.
"We don't need this panic," Zelensky told a news conference with foreign media, insisting he wanted to avoid hurting the Ukrainian economy.
"There are signals even from respected leaders of states. They just say that tomorrow there will be war. This is panic - how much does it cost for our state?" he asked.