Reports covering the Pentagon, Military Issues and National Security
Missy Ryan Reports covering the Pentagon, Military Issues and National Security December 6 at 19:20 Russia's seizure of Ukrainian shipping…
Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian shipping vessels is a manifestation of ignoring global rules and intentions to test the West , the highest US military said Thursday.
Avg. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Common Managers of Staff, said that the Trump administration did not discuss a military response to the November 25 event in Kerch, where Russia’s Coast Guard seized three Ukrainian ships reported by Moscow in its territorial waters.
“There is a lot about Russia’s respect for international norms and norms,” said Dunford during a Washington Post Live event. “What took place in the sea of the Azores is consistent with a pattern of behavior that really goes back to Georgia, Crimea and Donbass in Ukraine,” he said, referring to Russia’s steps to claim beyond his borders over the past decade.
The incident that occurred when the Ukrainian ships attempted to enter the Azores Sea from the Black Sea in an area where Russia has built a bridge connecting the Crimean Peninsula with the mainland Russia was a sharp illustration of Moscow’s military superiority over Ukraine. It also increased the prospect of further conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, contrary to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government responded to the accident by introducing warfare and demanded that the ships were released “Crews.”
“We refer to this as a competition that has no armed conflict, where what the Russians really do is test the international community’s decision to enforce the rules that exist, in this case clear breaches of sovereignty,” Dunford said.
A kind of international response – which could be exclusively diplomatic and economical – was necessary or Russia would continue to take such action, Dunford said. More than 10,000 people have died in the fighting in Ukraine since 2014.
The response from Dunford and other military leaders, including defense secretary Jim Mattis, illustrates the balance sheet Washington faces in its desire to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and control Russia’s extraterritorial aspirations, while while attempting to avoid a military confrontation with Moscow.
While the United States has introduced tough sanctions against Russia, President Trump has taken Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Last year last year, the Trump Administration approved the sale of certain weapons including anti-tank missiles to Ukraine. Today, Dunford said the Pentagon continued to try and help Ukraine to restructure its defense sector and give Kiev the opportunity to defend itself.
Dunford said that he had not discussed the event with his counterpart, Valeriy Gerasimov, as he speaks periodically.  Separately, Dunford said that the United States and its allies continue to make progress towards the Islamic state of Syria, where small bands of extremist warriors have demonstrated a stubborn challenge for American soldiers.
Dunford suggested that the United States forces in Syria could contribute to an extended mission. He said that US officials had trained and equipped about one-fifth of a force of about 35,000 to 40,000 local troops that would be needed to stabilize parts of Syria once occupied by the Islamic state.