Pentagon spokesman John Kirby appeared to deliberately stop short of categorizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an invasion, instead calling the movement of Russian troops and artillery pieces — as well as their reported firing at Ukrainian forces — “an unauthorized entry into Ukraine.”
On Friday Kirby was scheduled to make a statement on the ongoing American airstrikes against ISIS terrorists in Iraq, but was forced to first address reports from The New York Times and elsewhere that Russian forces have entered eastern Ukraine and begun firing on Ukrainian military positions.
“We are very concerned by the movement of a Russian convoy across Ukraine’s border,” the rear admiral said. “We strongly condemn this action, and any actions that Russian forces take that increase tensions in the region.”
“Russia should not send vehicles, persons or cargo of any kind into Ukraine, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without Kiev’s express permission,” Kirby warned. “This is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia.”
“Russia must remove its vehicles and personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately,” he declared. “Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation.”
“Does the U.S. consider this an invasion?” one reporter asked.
“It’s certainly an unauthorized entry into Ukraine by this convoy,” Kirby replied, “and we are consulting, as I said, with international partners right now about next steps. I don’t have anything additional to add at this time.”
Kirby later appeared to stop himself when describing the invasion. “We’ve made our position very, very clear,” he said. “That they should not be doing this under the guise of a humanitarian convoy, to use that as an excuse, um . . . uh . . . to act, uh . . . to cross the border in an unauthorized way.”