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Russian drones would be in Europe if not for US - Pentagon

Russian drones would be in Europe if not for US - Pentagon RBC-Ukraine collage
Author: Maria Kholina

Russia could have stripped Ukraine of its independence in 2022 and sent drones from its territory to Europe. Assistance to Kyiv from the United States thwarted this, according to Celeste Vollander, Deputy Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

Vollander said that those UAVs that the Russians are sending from Crimea over Ukrainian cities could have attacked European capitals. The cruise missiles that the Russians use against Ukraine's critically important energy infrastructure would have threatened U.S. allies in NATO.

According to her, Americans in Europe - from military personnel, businessmen, and ordinary citizens to American students studying in Europe - would have been in danger.

All of this was prevented by American support for Ukraine and, above all, the courage and skill of the Ukrainians, Vollander emphasized.

Threat remains

And the threat to Europe is still relevant in light of delays in the U.S. Congress vote on aid to Ukraine, Vollander said.

Vollander said that Ukrainians have learned to fight and are holding back the Russians, disrupting their operations in the Black Sea, and have resumed grain exports, providing the Global South with what it needs. But since there's not enough ammunition, air defense systems, spare parts needed on the front lines, it could very well return to the scenario of 2022 and the threat of shelling Europe.

She reported that the United States ranks 16th in the world in terms of the ratio of GDP to aid provided to Ukraine.

The Deputy Secretary of Defense also outlined what victory for Ukraine looks like in her understanding:

"It is Ukraine continuing to be a sovereign state, recognized within its internationally recognized borders, an independent country that independently determines its national security policy, its foreign policy. Its economic policy is determined by the Ukrainian people and their democratically elected leadership. And these are the goals we set for ourselves," she said.

Vollander also added that there is much speculation about the possibility of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia but emphasized that this is for Ukrainians themselves to decide. The United States, she said, supports Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence, and the right to choose.

Assistance to Ukraine

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Putin won't stop if he wins in Ukraine. He warned that Putin is a neighbor who doesn't know where his borders end and begin.

A possible defeat for Ukraine would mean the presence of the Russian army on Europe's border, which means that Putin may think "if I won once, why couldn't he defeat his neighbor again?" Borrell said.

In late October 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden appealed to Congress for over $105 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Under this request, Ukraine was to receive over $60 billion. However, the request faced stiff opposition from Republicans in the House of Representatives.