VILNIUS (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that Russia’s military was “poised to strike” Ukraine, even as he voiced hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin would step back from the brink of war.
Austin vowed Washington would stand with its Baltic allies during a visit to Lithuania on Saturday, as the region anxiously weighed the risks of a possible invasion. Russia denies planning any attacks.
“I want everyone in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia to know — and I want President (Vladimir) Putin in the Kremlin to know — that the United States stands with our allies,” Austin told a news conference in Vilnius, after talks with Lithuanian leaders.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Andrius Sytas; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Alison Williams)