05:22 GMT09 May 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is committed to assisting Ukraine with its defense needs, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday.

    Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels this week to discuss matters on Afghanistan and Russian troop movements near eastern Ukraine's border.

    "We are committed to assisting Ukraine with its self-defense needs," Austin said during a press conference in Brussels.

    Austin said the United States will continue to provide material support to Ukraine but he did not get into specifics.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde during a phone conversation on Wednesday that Moscow is interested in a peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.

    On Monday, the G7 foreign ministers and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, expressed concerns over the Russian armed forces’ movement on the border with Ukraine and in Crimea, and called for de-escalation.

    Russian officials have described the situation on the border with Ukraine as "frightening" and vowed to bolster security in response to an increased NATO presence. Despite the Minsk peace agreements, ceasefire violations continue in southeastern Ukraine. According to UN data, about 13,000 people have fallen in the Donbas conflict since its inception in 2014. On April 2, a four-year-old boy was killed in what locals said was an attack by a Ukrainian drone.
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