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Video Above; Is this the beginning of an Arms Race?

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

If Russia invades Ukraine, US forces will not defend Ukraine. It is that simple and clear, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who told reporters that US moves to reassure NATO within Eastern Europe does not translate into any plans to have forces oppose Russia in Ukraine.

US Troops & Ukraine

“The president has made clear that U.S. troops are not going to be fighting in Ukraine. The troops that we have added to the already 80,000 that are based in Europe are going to reassure our allies and our partners to deter aggression against the alliance to conduct some joint training,” Kirby told reporters, according to a Pentagon transcript.

The red line for the US and NATO, when it comes to a willingness to engage in actual military conflict, seems to involve NATO and Eastern Europe. Therefore, US and European force maneuvering is likely intended to send a clear message that any movement Westward beyond Ukraine would not be tolerated. Combined US and NATO allied forces are conducting drills and solidifying interoperability in the event that they might need to enter combat.

Soldiers work with their military vehicle at the Gozhsky training ground during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills in Belarus. Russia has massed troops near the Ukraine border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, Feb. 12, 2022.

Soldiers work with their military vehicle at the Gozhsky training ground during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills in Belarus. Russia has massed troops near the Ukraine border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, Feb. 12, 2022.

This apparent distinction, however, does not mean the US will do nothing in response should Russia actually invade. While any actual response would be likely to change depending upon emerging circumstances, the US has already made its support for Ukraine very clear. The US is moving thousands of troops to Eastern Europe and deploying new forces from the US. The US has also sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, weapons Kirby said were initially sent as purely defensive weapons.

Some have speculated that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could result in a need to conduct a longer-term counterinsurgency campaign against Ukrainian forces potentially supported by the US and allied partners. Any counter-Russian insurgency in Ukraine is likely to be quite challenged, given that Russia operates as many as 850,000 active duty forces, according to Global Firepower, as compared to Ukraine’s 200,000

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In this photo taken from video and released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, a soldier takes part in the Belarusian and Russian joint military drills at Brestsky firing range, Belarus. Russian and Belarus troops held joint combat training at firing ranges in Belarus. The drills involved motorized rifle, artillery and anti-tank missile units, as well tanks and armored personnel carriers crews

In this photo taken from video and released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, a soldier takes part in the Belarusian and Russian joint military drills at Brestsky firing range, Belarus. Russian and Belarus troops held joint combat training at firing ranges in Belarus. The drills involved motorized rifle, artillery and anti-tank missile units, as well tanks and armored personnel carriers crews

Certainly any possibility of a direct US-Russian force-on-force engagement would be a major concern, as it could spark the beginning of a dangerous great-power conflict.

The circumstance with Ukraine has led Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to plan an upcoming trip to Poland, Lithuania and Brussels to meet with senior leaders from those countries and, among other things, reiterate the US commitment to Article 5 of the NATO charter ensuring collective security.

Kirby was careful to avoid speculation and did not comment on specifics, yet he was very clear that it is entirely possible that a Russian invasion will happen very soon and could even be this week.

Video Above: Could F-35s Deter Russia From Invading Ukraine?

“He (Putin) continues to advance his readiness, should he choose to -- to go down a military path here, and should he choose to invade again, he is doing all the things you would expect him to do to make sure he's ready for that option, or options,” Kirby said. 

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization