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US defense chief: Russia ‘uncoiling and poised to strike’

Tanks move during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in Belarus, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. Russia has deployed troops to its ally Belarus for sweeping joint military drills that run through Sunday, fueling Western concerns that Moscow could use the exercise to attack Ukraine from the north.

VILNIUS, Lithuania  — U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has assured the three Baltic nations that they would not be on their own if faced with security threats from Russia.

But he stopped short of promising a permanent deployment of American troops in the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Austin was in Lithuania on Saturday as a Russian troop buildup and other actions have Western officials saying that Moscow could invade Ukraine at any time.

Austin said the Russians “are uncoiling and are now poised to strike.” Lithuanian officials voiced concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged ambitions could expand to the entire region.

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Associated Press

Associated Press

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