Washington [US], February 15 (ANI): Amid heightened tension between Russia and Ukraine, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will be travelling to European countries Belgium, Poland, and Lithuania.
“Austin will depart on an overseas trip February 15 to meet with senior military and government leaders in Belgium, Poland, and Lithuania,” read the US Department of Defense release. In Belgium, Secretary Austin will meet with Allied defense ministers and NATO leadership to discuss Russia’s military buildup in and around Ukraine, reiterate the US commitment to Article 5, and continue the Alliance’s progress on deterrence and defense while ensuring the Alliance is prepared to face tomorrow’s challenges.
In Poland, he will meet with Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, and Minister of National Defence of Poland Mariusz Blaszczak to enhance bilateral cooperation in security and deepen the Polish-American partnership, which is vital to addressing today’s current threats and challenges, added the release.
Secretary Austin will also meet with US and Polish troops at Powidz Air Base to tour the facilities and observe the culture and conditions of our rotational presence there.
Secretary Austin will also travel to Lithuania to meet with Gitanas Nauseda, President of Lithuania, Ingrida Simonyte, Prime Minister of Lithuania, and Minister Arvydas Anusauskas, Minister for National Defence of Lithuania, to reaffirm that the United States stands with Lithuania, working together to strengthen the Lithuania armed forces and continuing to stand shoulder to shoulder against threats and adversaries to advance shared interests and values.
Secretary Austin will meet jointly with Minister Anusauskas, Kalle Laanet, Minister of Defense of Estonia, and Artis Pabriks, Minister of Defense of Latvia, and will visit with US Service members stationed in Lithuania, added the release.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday announced of Russian invasion on February 16 in his Facebook post.
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. The troop build-up had raised concerns among the US and NATO allies that Russia is planning a military incursion.
However, Russia has continually denied having any such plans.