US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that his country is not at war with Russia amid Washington’s escalating tensions with Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
“We’re not at war with Russia, so do you define an enemy as being at war or not at war?” Hagel said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday when asked if Russia is an enemy of the US.
The Pentagon chief, however, said Russia is “an adversary in Ukraine.”
“Sure, but I think that’s a little simplistic, to get into either enemy, friend, partner, so on,” he said. “Russia continues to isolate itself for a short-term gain.”
Hagel also noted that he sees no evidence Russian President Vladimir Putin has withdrawn troops on its border with Ukraine.
“Well, they’re not leaving, as far as we can tell. You have to ask President Putin as to why he says they’re leaving and when, in fact, they’re not leaving,” he said.
The US accuses Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty by stirring up pro-Russia protests in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies the allegation.
In an article published in Press TV on Sunday, American columnist Webster Tarpley said US and NATO propaganda is based on the idea that Russia under President Putin has been waging an aggressive campaign against Ukraine.
“But the reality is that Russia’s actions have largely been of a strategically defensive character, although also containing some aggressive tactics,” he explained.
“The main cause of the current conflict is the insistence by Washington and London on organizing a coup d’état in Russia’s largest and most strategically sensitive area.”
“Putin’s actions have been mainly focused on preventing the rise of a hostile fascist state allied to NATO on his own borders. Russia is merely trying to secure for itself an environment of reasonably benign neighbors, a program not unlike the traditional US Monroe Doctrine,” Tarpley wrote.