Russia started the conflict in eastern Ukraine and is an obstacle to its peaceful resolution, said the United States Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, at a briefing following a meeting with the Ukrainian Defense Minister, Andriy Taran.
"Russia started this conflict, and Russia is an obstacle to a peaceful settlement. They could begin by respecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Until that happens, we will do everything we can to support Ukraine's efforts to develop defense forces," Austin said.
Taran, in turn, expressed hope that the United States will help to deter Russia from a full-scale attack on Ukraine.
"We expect that the United States will continue to support our independence, our territorial integrity and by all available methods to keep Russia from further spreading aggression, from escalating the armed conflict into a full-scale war," the Ukrainian minister said.
The talks of settlement of the Donbas conflict are carried out within the framework of the "Normandy format" with the mediation of France and Germany. However, they, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, France and Germany afraid to call Russia a party to the conflict.
Zerlensky has repeatedly expressed a desire to involve the United States in peace talks with Russia.