At the Pentagon on Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III summoned senior military and civilian officials, including General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Tod D. Wolters, the head of the army European Command, to discuss the constitution of Russian troops. Officials said an effort was underway to send additional defensive weapons, including anti-tank javelins, to Ukraine, but that they could be pre-positioned outside the country to avoid giving Mr Putin a pretext. for military action.
Later Monday, General Milley virtually met with his NATO military counterparts to discuss the crisis. Mr Biden also called Mr Zelensky ahead of the meeting, and he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Zelensky on Monday and “reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity in the face of the ‘Russian aggression,’ State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. declaration.
John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, declined to say whether the United States still has a small number of military advisers in Ukraine or whether the administration has decided to send additional military assistance to the Ukraine.
But Mr Kirby said the administration was focused on resolving the crisis through diplomatic action.
“We don’t think conflict is inevitable here,” he told reporters.
But other officials said they were already seeing increased cyber action, and some officials recalled that Russia had cut power to two parts of Ukraine in recent years – and most likely had the capacity to new disruptions now.
Mr Biden and Mr Blinken, who attended a NATO meeting last week, have worked to convince European countries, starting with Germany, that a clear warning to Mr Putin is needed. The effort is to present Mr Putin with a united front and persuade him that the sanctions he would suffer would be widely enforced.