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U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in an extensive interview Tuesday with Fox News that he believes Ukraine will need “long-range artillery and tanks and armored vehicles” to fight back against Russia in the country’s south and east.
Austin sat down with Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin after meeting dozens of defense ministers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany – a gathering he says was “about ensuring we can continue to give Ukraine what it has need to be successful in fighting today. ”
“And as the fight has evolved, you’ve seen their needs change from a lot in the beginning, a lot of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons,” Austin said. “But as the fighting in the southern and eastern parts of the country continues, it’s a different kind of terrain.”
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“They need different kinds of things to be able to shape that fight a little better,” he continued. “So we look at long-range artillery and tanks and armored vehicles and that sort of thing.”
When Austin was asked if he thought the conflict would resort to the use of nuclear weapons, he said “I do not”.
But he also said he did not want to speculate “in any kind of response that we would come up with” if Russia used a nuclear weapon.
“My job is to offer the president a range of options for everything that happens. I feel confident I can do it no matter what happens,” he told Fox News.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “the risks are now significant”, considering the potential for the war in Ukraine to become a nuclear conflict.
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Austin on Tuesday called that rhetoric “dangerous” and “unhelpful.”
“We’ve said over and over again that a nuclear war can’t be won by either side. So I think the saber-rattling and that kind of rhetoric is just inappropriate,” he told Griffin.
Austin said it is “difficult to say motivating Mr. Lavrov” to make such comments, “but again, I think that kind of talk should be avoided.”
In the end, Austin said he believes “every day” is important in Ukraine’s war against Russia.
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“Every day is important in a fight like this,” he said. “And so we want to make sure that as this fight develops, the Ukrainians have what they need to succeed and they can succeed. They believe in it.”
“And by the way, I think that and all the nations that were in space today, they believe in that too,” Austin added.