Newsnight: US Official defended after accusations of escalating tensions over Ukraine

Ukraine's war with Russia could be 'extremely long' says expert

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General Sir Chris Deverell spoke on Newsnight to defend the US Defence Secretary’s comments on aiming to weaken Russia during the conflict. The US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin spoke to reporters after the first visit of the United States to Kyiv since the invasion by Russia.

General Deverell stated: “I don’t think that it’s true to say that the Americans are necessarily claiming that their language about their aims are the same as NATO’s aims.

“What they were talking about is US policy.

“I suspect many countries believe that Putin needs to be weakened so he cannot do this again.”

The Former British Army Officer added: “We want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country about to protect its sovereign territory, we want to see Russia weakened to the point where it can’t do things like invade Ukraine.”

General Deverell noted that the language used by the US Defence Secretary was unusually forceful but added that it reflects the attitude towards the conflict.

He stated: “The surprising thing in a way was that he was prepared to say it out loud because I’m sure it’s a true statement, that that’s what they believe.

“It is a hardening of the language, but I think what is happening and it is to greater or lesser degree is happening across the lands, is a recognition that there are vital national interests at stake in protecting Ukraine.”

On a trip to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the Defence Secretary stated that the resistance in Ukraine “has brought inspiration to the free world and even greater resolve to NATO”.

He added that Putin “never imagined that the world would rally behind Ukraine so swiftly and surely”.

During the visit that involved allies from 40 nations the US official vowed that the United States would move “Heaven and Earth” to bolster Ukraine forces and help them to win its battle.

He said the US is aiming to “help Ukraine win the fight against Russia’s unjust invasion to build up Ukraine’s defences for tomorrow’s challenges”.

He continued: “As we see this morning, nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression.

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“Ukraine clearly believes that it can win and so does everyone here.”

He told Ukraine: “All of us have your back.”

General Mark A. Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was less encouraging, as he offered a stark depiction of the conflict noting that “time is not on Ukraine’s side” as Russia continue their offence on the southern and south-eastern flank of Ukraine.

He added: “The outcome of this battle, right here, today, is dependent on the people in this room.

“The next two, three, four weeks will shape the overall outcome of this fight.”

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