The Department of Defense is learning from the experiences of the past six months as Russia built up troops around Ukraine and then invaded the country, Press Secretary John F. Kirby told a news conference at the Pentagon today.
These observations are incorporated into the national defense strategy, he said.
The national defense strategy is still being developed, as is the national security strategy. Both documents are based on President Joe Biden’s Interim National Security Guidelines.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in Poland on Feb. 18 that many aspects of strategy were already in play when it came to efforts with Russia. “The secretary has been clear that this will reinforce his notion of built-in deterrence and he will certainly recognize that China remains the stimulus challenge for the department,” Kirby said.
But the document also recognizes that other nation-state threats exist: and that includes Russia, he said.
“As we write this, … we’ve seen Russia over the last couple of months build this massive military force around Ukraine’s borders,” Kirby said. “So it would be foolish for us to think that its making was not also informed by what we saw Russia doing.”
Kirby also discussed the deconfliction line that has been put in place between the US European Command and the Russian Defense Ministry. “It’s basically … a telephone connection with the Russian Defense Ministry,” Kirby said. “As I understand it, it’s basically made up of European Command staff officers…and it’s administered as a bilateral deconfliction channel between the United States and Russia.”
Kirby said they tested the line. “When we tested it, they picked up the other end and recognized they got the call,” he said.
Kirby said U.S. officials felt it was valuable to have such a hotline at the operational level to “reduce the risk of miscalculation and to be able to communicate in real time if necessary.”
This is particularly important as the airspace above Ukraine is contested by both Russia and Ukraine. The disputed airspace adjoins NATO countries.