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U.S. Defense Secretary accuses Russia of unleashing war against Ukraine

Russia, which unleashed the war in eastern Ukraine, obstructs a peaceful settlement of this armed conflict.

"Let's make it clear that Russia started this war [in eastern Ukraine] and Russia is the [stumbling] block that obstructs a peaceful settlement. They violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. For our part, we will do everything possible to support Ukraine and strengthen its capacity to protect its territorial integrity," U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said at a joint briefing with Minister of Defense of Ukraine Andriy Taran in Kyiv, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

He also assured that the United States would continue to uphold security in the Black Sea region.

"This region is very important to us, and we will continue to support our partners in upholding security in this region," the Pentagon chief said.

According to Defense Minister Andriy Taran, Ukraine expects the United States to support its independence, territorial integrity, and deter Russia from further expanding the armed conflict and escalating it into a full-scale war.

"What do we have to stop Russian aggression? We have the main thing – the Armed Forces, which are trained, which have gained rigorous experience during the war with the Russian occupiers, and we are ready to continue to defend our homeland. What do we expect from the United States? We expect that the United States will continue to support our independence, territorial integrity and in every possible way, by all available methods, to deter Russia from further expanding aggression, from further expanding the armed conflict, from escalating into a full-scale war," Taran said.

He also clarified that the means of influence that the United States could use for this purpose were primarily diplomatic efforts and military-technical assistance to Ukraine.

When asked whether Ukraine fears that the United States is not a reliable partner, Taran said: "Ukraine is a country that is fighting for its independence, its territorial integrity. And we have no doubt about the support of our strategic partner. The United States understands the importance of Ukraine's struggle for independence, for deterring Russian aggression. The United States is well aware that Ukraine is at the forefront of the fight against Russian expansion, Russia's desire to revive its imperial ambitions thus posing a threat to the entire European region. We have no doubt that the United States is committed to supporting Ukraine."

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