The United States is tracking enough indicators and warnings surrounding Russian military activity near Ukraine to trigger “a lot of concern” and Russian rhetoric appears increasingly strident, the top U.S. military officer said late on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to speculate about the kinds of options the United States might consider in the event of a Russian invasion. But Milley, in some of his most extensive remarks on the crisis, stressed the importance of Ukraine’s sovereignty to Washington and to the NATO alliance.
“There’s significant national security interests of the United States and of NATO member states at stake here if there was an overt act of aggressive action militarily by the Russians into a nation state that has been independent since 1991,” Milley said during a flight from Seoul to Washington.
Ukraine says Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops near their long shared border. But Moscow has dismissed suggestions it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.
According to Reuters the Kremlin already annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then backed rebels fighting Kyiv government forces in the east of the country. That conflict has killed 14,000 people, Kyiv says, and is still simmering.
Experts caution that an unchallenged Russian invasion could beRussian military destabilizing, creating ripple effects well beyond Ukraine at a time of increasing anxiety over Chinese intentions toward Taiwan, read the report.
Milley declined to state publicly his estimate of the number of Russian forces near Ukraine but suggested his concerns went beyond the raw numbers of Russian troops.
“I’m not going to tell you what we track and the indicators or warnings from an intelligence standpoint, but we track them all,” Milley said. “And there’s enough out there now to cause a lot of concern, and we’ll continue to monitor.”
According to the report Russia and Ukraine have centuries of shared history and formed the two biggest republics of the Soviet Union until its 1991 collapse, so Moscow views its neighbor’s ambition to join NATO as an affront and a threat.
Since the latest crisis started, Moscow has set out demands for legally binding security guarantees from the West, and for assurances that NATO will not admit Ukraine as a member or deploy missile systems there to target Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Moscow on Thursday of “severe costs” if it invaded Ukraine, urging his Russian counterpart to seek a diplomatic exit from the crisis.
Milley declined to speculate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin might be emboldened by U.S. President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying “You’d have to ask Putin.” The August pullout ended America’s two-decade-old war in an unambiguous defeat, with the Taliban returning to power.
“I think it would be a mistake for any country to draw a broad strategic conclusion based on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and then take that event and automatically apply it to other situations,” Milley said.
He cited historic examples of past U.S. presidents who withdrew troops in some places but ordered military action elsewhere.
“So the United States is a difficult country for other countries to understand sometimes,” he said.
Israeli airstrike kills two people in Damascus, Syrian state TV says
An Israeli airstrike hit a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district in Syria’s capital Damascus on Wednesday, killing two people, Syrian state media and a security source said.
A military source cited by Syrian state TV said the strike at about 9:40 a.m. (0640 GMT) wounded a number of other people, identifying the dead as civilians, Reuters reported.
Images published by Syrian state media showed the charred side of a multi-storey building. The security source said the “attack did not achieve its aims”.
The neighbourhood hosts residential buildings, schools and Iranian cultural centres, and lies near a large, heavily-guarded complex used by security agencies. The district was struck in an Israeli attack in February 2023 that killed Iranian military experts.
Witnesses heard several back-to-back explosions. The blasts scared children at a nearby school and ambulances rushed to the area, the witnesses told Reuters.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.
Iran’s semi-official Student News Network said no Iranian citizens were killed in the strike, read the report.
On Wednesday afternoon, a Reuters witness heard another large blast in the capital that shook the windows of homes. Local Syrian outlet Sham FM said several explosions were heard in the capital without specifying the cause.
Iran has been a major backer of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s nearly 12-year-old conflict. Its support for Damascus and the Lebanese group Hezbollah has drawn regular Israeli air strikes meant to curb Tehran’s extraterritorial military power.
Those strikes have ramped up in line with flaring regional tensions since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, with more than half a dozen Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers killed in suspected Israeli strikes on Syria since December.
As a result, the Guards have scaled back deployment of their senior officers in Syria and have planned to rely more on allied Shi’ite militia to preserve their sway there, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month.
Iran, a backer of Hamas, has sought to stay out of the conflict itself even as it supports groups that have entered the fray from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria – the so-called “Axis of Resistance” that is hostile to Israeli and U.S. interests.
US military drone shot down near Yemen, US officials say
A U.S. military Mq-9 drone was shot down near Yemen by Iran-backed militants, two U.S. officials said on Tuesday, the second time such a shoot down has taken place in recent months during a near daily tit-for-tat between the group and U.S. forces, Reuters reported.
The Houthis, who have controlled most of Yemen for nearly a decade, have carried out repeated drone and missile strikes since November in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait against commercial and military ships. U.S. and British forces have responded with multiple strikes on Houthi facilities but have so far failed to halt the attacks.
One of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said initial information showed that the U.S. drone, made by General Atomics, was hit near Hodeidah on Monday. The official said information could change and did not say if the drone was in international airspace.
The second official said the drone was shot down by a Houthi surface-to-air missile fired from near Hodeida.
The comments by the officials confirm a claim by the Houthis that they had shot down a drone near the port city, read the report.
In November, another Mq-9 was shot down by the Houthis and two drones were brought down by the group in 2019.
The Houthi militants said on Monday they had attacked the Rubymar cargo vessel in the Gulf of Aden, which was at risk of sinking, raising the stakes in their campaign to disrupt global shipping in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.
Despite Western attacks on them in Yemen, the Houthis have vowed to continue targeting ships linked to Israel until attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip stop, Reuters reported.
Israel opposes ‘unilateral’ imposition of Palestinian state
Israel on Sunday formalised its opposition to what it called the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood, and said any such agreement must be reached through direct negotiations, Reuters reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought the “declaratory decision” to a vote in cabinet, which unanimously approved the measure, according to a statement.
Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly meeting that the move comes after “recent talk in the international community about an attempt to unilaterally impose on Israel a Palestinian state.”
The war in Gaza that has raged since Hamas’ Oct. 7 rampage through Israeli communities is the latest in a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that has rumbled on for seven decades and destabilised the Middle East.
Efforts to achieve a two-state solution – a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza alongside Israel – have been stalled since 2014, read the report.
U.S. President Joe Biden has been trying to clinch an even broader deal in the Middle East, that would include Saudi Arabia and other Arab states normalizing ties with Israel, as well as the creation of a Palestinian state.
The formal Israeli statement, according to Netanyahu’s office, reflects the fact that: “Israel rejects outright international dictates regarding a permanent accord with the Palestinians. An accord, should it be reached, will only come through direct negotiations between the sides, without preconditions.”
“Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7th massacre will grant a huge, unprecedented reward to terrorism and prevent any future peace accord,” it said.
Afghanistan A cricket team to tour Sri Lanka in April
IEA will attend future UN meetings if demands accepted: deputy PM
A company will invest $27.5 million in ruby mining on the outskirts of Kabul
Strong consensus on collective interests in Afghanistan exist: Thomas West
Afghan MMA fighter to face his Israeli rival
Well-known Quran reciter Qari Barakatullah Saleem dies
Economic Commission approves installation of scanners at 12 customs units at border crossings
Pakistan court jails ex-PM Imran Khan for 10 years ahead of elections
World Court says Israel must take steps to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza
Afghanistan announce squad for Test match against Sri Lanka
Tahawol: Anniversary of Kabul people’s uprising against Soviet occupation
Saar: US’s remarks on Durand Line discussed
Tahawol: Deputy PM’s meeting with China’s ambassador in Kabul discussed
Saar: Russia’s remarks about Doha meeting on Afghanistan discussed
Tahawol: UN chief’s call for lifting restrictions on women
Business4 days ago
Import, export volumes total $7.5 billion in 1st nine months of this solar year
World5 days ago
Israel opposes ‘unilateral’ imposition of Palestinian state
Latest News4 days ago
Death toll in Nuristan landslide rises to 25
Regional4 days ago
Pakistan’s majority parties struggle to form coalition government
Latest News3 days ago
Norway to hold a meeting on climate change in Afghanistan in near future
Sport3 days ago
Sri Lanka clinch T20I series after beating Afghanistan by 72 runs
Latest News3 days ago
Uzbekistan’s electricity exports to Afghanistan drop 50% due to technical issues
Sport4 days ago
Afghanistan to take on Sri Lanka in 2nd of 3 T20Is Monday