Sep 7, 2022

Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder holds news briefing 9/06/22 Transcript

Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder holds news briefing 9/06/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsPentagon BriefingPentagon press secretary Pat Ryder holds news briefing 9/06/22 Transcript

Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder holds news briefing 9/06/22. Read the transcript here.

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Pat Ryder: (00:00)
… military last week. On his first day in office as the secretary of defense, Secretary Austin made clear that countering the scourge of sexual assault and sexual harassment in our military was a top priority for him and the department’s leadership, and that’s still very true today. As the statistics from the report indicate, we have much more work to do to ensure that all members of the US military and the Department of Defense are treated with dignity and respect and that they can do their important work for our nation without fear of violence or harassment. The Department of Defense leaders will continue to remain sharply focused on eliminating sexual assault, and as a department, we’re committed to preventing this scourge from happening in the first place, assisting sexual assault survivors with recovery and resilience when it does happen, holding offenders accountable and rebuilding trust and confidence among our war fighters, that DOD leaders are taking this matter seriously.

Pat Ryder: (00:53)
In addition to the annual report, Secretary Austin issued a memo on Thursday to senior Pentagon leadership and senior field commanders detailing the specific multiple actions DOD is taking to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment, which is available on the website under the publications tab. Sexual assault in the military is a national defense issue and addressing it is something this department considers absolutely vital to the health and readiness of our forces. In the memos closing, secretary Austin makes his views very clear on this subject to US military leaders. Sexual violence will not be tolerated within our ranks. This is a leadership issue and we will lead.

Pat Ryder: (01:33)
Separately, I want to highlight a few operations and administrative items for your awareness. There will be an operational test launch of an Air Force Global Strike Command Unarmed Minute Man III intercontinental ballistic missile, early tomorrow morning, September 7, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This launch is a routine test which was scheduled far in advance, and consistent with previous tests, this ICBM launch will validate and verify effectiveness and readiness of the system. In accordance with standard procedures, the United States has transmitted a pre-launch notification, pursuant to The Hague code of conduct and notified the Russian government in advance, pursuant to treaty obligations. The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. As you may recall, the last test launch was August 4th which had been delayed, so for those wondering about timing, the two launches moved closer together due to the delays from the August date sliding to the right. And again, tomorrow’s launch was scheduled far in advance.

Pat Ryder: (02:39)
And finally, as a reminder, Secretary Austin and General Milley will host an in-person meeting Thursday of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, and will be joined by ministers of defense and senior military officials at Ramstein Air Base from 50 plus nations around the world to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The secretary and the chairman look forward to these important discussions, which demonstrate the strong international unity, resolve and support for the Ukrainian people as they continue to fight and defend their country against Russian aggression.

Pat Ryder: (03:09)
And with that, I’m happy to take your questions. We start with AP. Leta, do we have [inaudible 00:03:20]

Speaker 1: (03:20)
Yep. Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

Pat Ryder: (03:28)
I can hear you.

Speaker 1: (03:29)
You can?

Pat Ryder: (03:29)
I can hear you. Yes.

Speaker 1: (03:31)
So a question on the latest intelligence suggesting that Russia is hoping to buy millions of dollars of rockets and artillery from North Korea. Has the Pentagon seen any indication that that is ongoing already or preparation for that? And then just a quick one on the secretary’s trip this week. Do you expect that there will be more aid announced or any other changes in Us troop posture in Europe as part of this coming meeting?

Pat Ryder: (04:10)
Yeah. Thanks for the question Leta. So let me take your second question first and say that I don’t have any announcements to make right now. Certainly, the secretary looks forward to the conversations as part of the Ukraine Contact Group, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on that front in terms of any outcomes. As far as your first question, yes, we do have indications that Russia has approached North Korea to request ammunition. I’m not able to provide any more detail than that at this point in time but it does demonstrate and is indicative of the situation that Russia finds itself in in terms of its logistics and sustainment capabilities as it relates to Ukraine. Certainly, as has been said, we assess that things are not going well on that front for Russia, so the fact that they’re reaching out to North Korea is a sign that they’re having some challenges on the sustainment front. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (05:14)
Just a quick follow up then. You talked about they’re in the process of getting these weapons. Does that mean they have sent the money over, they’re waiting for the shipment? Have they not sent money over? What part of the process are we in?

Pat Ryder: (05:26)
Yeah. So the information we have is that they’ve approached North Korea, but beyond that, I don’t have any further details to provide.

Speaker 2: (05:33)
There’s been no transfer of money necessarily.

Pat Ryder: (05:35)
I don’t have any other details.

Speaker 2: (05:36)
And just to follow up, why declassify this information now? Is it because you received it now or because the process of declassification took a while? I guess why now?

Pat Ryder: (05:46)
So what I would say, Idris, is that as this campaign has unfolded, we’ve tried to make an effort to ensure that the public and the international community understand the situation that Russia finds itself as they, again, continue to wage their campaign in Ukraine. This information is relevant to the fight in the sense that, again, it’s indicative of the situation that Russia finds itself and shows the fact that they’re trying to reach out to international actors like Iran and North Korea that don’t have the best record when it comes to international stability.

Speaker 2: (06:25)
And one last question. Is this the first time the Russians have reached out to the North Koreans for these type of weapons?

Pat Ryder: (06:30)
I don’t have an answer to that. Okay. Laura?

Laura: (06:36)
Sure. Thanks. Two questions. First of all, can you give us an update on what you’re seeing from the drones that Russia has received from Iran? Are you seeing indications of additional failures like we saw last week? What’s the status there? And then I also wanted to ask, we’re seeing reports that Ukraine has launched a counter offensive now in the [inaudible 00:06:58] blast. Can you provide any update on what the Ukrainian armed forces are doing there?

Pat Ryder: (07:03)
Sure. On your first question, I don’t have any updates to provide. In terms of what we’re seeing in Ukraine, what I would tell you is that in general, what we’ve seen in the Kherson region first is continued defensive operations by the Ukrainians. They continue to make some forward movement. We are aware that they have retaken some villages. In terms of further detail beyond that, I’d refer to the Ukrainians, but that’s probably about as much information as I’m going to be able provide in terms of an operational update from the podium.

Laura: (07:44)
Anything on [inaudible 00:07:45].

Pat Ryder: (07:44)
I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Laura: (07:46)
If I could just follow up, have you seen any movement of Russian forces from the east to resupply the south?

Pat Ryder: (07:54)
So in terms of Russian forces, what I would tell you is that we have seen some offensive Russian activity up near Bakut. In that situation, the Ukrainians continue to hold the line. As far as Russian reinforcement, I don’t have any details to provide on that. Jim?

Speaker 3: (08:16)
General, obviously the secretary and the chairman will be discussing training for Ukrainian forces outside of Ukraine by allied or partner countries. Can you just set, what’s the level of training right now before this meeting that’s coming up?

Pat Ryder: (08:37)
Sure. Talking in broad terms, primarily consisting of training on various weapon systems that we’re providing to the Ukrainians, providing training on maintenance and logistics type of support. We can certainly work with you to get you more details and more granularity on that, but generally speaking, that’s the kind of training that we’re providing. And again, this is not…

Pat Ryder: (09:03)
… speaking, that’s the kind of training that we’re providing. And again, this is not something new necessarily. Although certainly since the invasion, there’s been a continued increased focus on supporting the Ukrainians. But as you well know, this is something that we’ve been doing since 2014.

Speaker 3: (09:19)
And along with that, one of the comments that you hear most often from the Ukrainian military is the role that NCOs play, in small units especially. But that was also a part of the training that the Ukrainian military received from the US forces. Is that still continuing? Are they still doing that, or has the exigencies of war wiped that out?

Pat Ryder: (09:48)
So we’ll get back to you in terms of the specifics on that aspect of the training. What I would say is, yes, broadly speaking, that highlighting and working with the Ukrainians in terms of NCO leadership is something that we have done. This is a strategic advantage in a lot of ways of the US military and many Western militaries, is the non-commissioned officer corps in terms of what they bring to the battlefield and enabling modern militaries.

Pat Ryder: (10:20)
So I do know that that is an area that is of continued importance, but let us get back to you in terms of specific training on that front. Thanks, Jim.

Speaker 3: (10:30)
Thank you.

Pat Ryder: (10:30)
All right, let’s go back out to the phone lines here. Do we have Fox News?

Liz Friden: (10:36)
Hey. Yes. Liz Friden in with Fox News. Thanks for taking my question. As far as the Iranian capturing the sea drones last week, there were two different incidents in the Middle East. Does the US make anything of this happening suddenly as the Iran negotiations are ongoing with the nuclear deal? And is this part of a greater trend?

Pat Ryder: (10:58)
Yeah. Thanks for the question, Liz. So we do not see the two as connected. Again, as you’re aware, in the case of the sail drones, we did recover the drones. And it’s just another example of Iranian activity in this region that is unprofessional and problematic. And so certainly, we’ll continue to keep an eye on that front. But again, to answer your question, we do not see those two as connected. Okay. Yes, sir.

Speaker 4: (11:33)
Okay. Thank you for taking my question. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported the Pentagon created a new task force to expedite the arm sales to US allies and partners last month. First, could you confirm the report? And secondly, is there a concern, independent on that, the US will not be able to sufficiently arm Taiwan by 2027 when the US military assesses that China will have capabilities to invade Taiwan?

Pat Ryder: (12:04)
Yeah. So in terms of the for military sales tiger team, yes, we did recently initiate an internal FMS tiger team process and exploring a wide range of immediate and systemic areas for reform of Department of Defense processes, platforms, and regional perspectives to improve our ability to work with allies and partners. And it’s important to highlight the fact that this endeavor is not focused on a particular region. It’s rather designed to intensively explore and look at internal processes throughout the department. And so this is largely focused on efficiency. And I’m sorry. Can you ask your second question again?

Speaker 4: (12:47)
Oh. So is there any particular concern independent of that the US will not provide sufficient number of weapon systems to Taiwan by 2027, when the US military says that China could have capabilities to invade Taiwan?

Pat Ryder: (13:05)
So what I would tell you is that we’ll continue to work closely with our international partners and allies. I don’t have any specific remarks or comments to make today in regard to Taiwan or potential or future military sales, other than to say that we’ll continue to work very closely on stability in the region and work closely with our partners in the region to ensure that stays the case. Thank you.

Pat Ryder: (13:35)
Fadi, and then we’ll go to the phone.

Speaker 5: (13:36)
Thank you, General. So just to follow up on the question on the sail drone incident, specifically the second one, Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the cameras on both drones were missing. First of all, are you able to confirm that report and whether Iran took the cameras, or do you have an idea where they are now?

Pat Ryder: (13:58)
So I can confirm that the cameras were missing. These are unclassified, unsensitive, off the shelf technology. In terms of what specifically happened to them, I don’t have that information. So, no, I can’t confirm that Iran took them. Because these are commercial off the shelf systems, certainly I’d refer you to NAVCENT in terms of the efforts to repair these, but no particular concerns in regards to the fact that, again, this was not sensitive equipment.

Speaker 5: (14:33)
Is there an effort to communicate with the Iranians to ask if they actually have the cameras?

Pat Ryder: (14:42)
I don’t have any information into that. Again, what I would say is that we call on the Iranians to exercise good seamanship and observe the international rules and norms when it comes to operating in this area. Thank you.

Speaker 5: (14:58)
Thank you.

Pat Ryder: (15:00)
Thank you. Yes, sir.

Speaker 6: (15:02)
General, last week, we have seen Greeks using their S-300s locked on Turkish jets, conducting NATO mission. Is it an acceptable behavior for the United States, particularly when you think the mission was a NATO mission?

Pat Ryder: (15:19)
Yeah. Thanks for the question, Kasim. What I would tell you is I’m aware of those reports, but I don’t have any information to provide from here.

Speaker 6: (15:27)
But in terms of policy, for example, United States military is also conducting a lot of missions like this over the partner skies, in partner skies. Do you think that if something like this happened to the United States, would that be acceptable?

Pat Ryder: (15:44)
Well, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals, right? What I would tell you is that Secretary Austin has talked in the past with both his Turkish and his Greek counterparts and emphasized the need for continued efforts to reduce tensions in Aegean through constructive dialogue. So I’d leave it at that. Thank you. Let me go ahead and go to the phone here, Tony Capaccio from Bloomberg.

Tony Capaccio: (16:09)
Hi, sir. I had a quick question on the Ukraine and the Afghanistan after action report. You mentioned last week that a classified version has been prepared. What organization has prepared it? Was that the National Defense University? And what are your plans for releasing fairly quickly the executive summary, at least?

Pat Ryder: (16:28)
Thanks, Tony. So yes, National Defense University was responsible for compiling the report. And I’m not going to put a timeline on when the secretary’s review will be complete, nor when we will have an unclassified aspect of that report available for release.

Tony Capaccio: (16:48)
Okay. Well, Pat, will you at least commit to an expedited review of the classification of the report so that the public can see this and it’s just not leaked out?

Pat Ryder: (16:57)
Certainly, Tony, I’ll commit to taking your question and taking a look at that. And when we have something available, we will be sure to provide that. Thank you, though.

Pat Ryder: (17:08)
Okay. Let’s do one more from the phone here, Joe Gould, Defense News.

Joe Gould: (17:12)
Hi, General. Thanks for taking my question. I have a two parter also in light of the Ukraine aid request from the administration. First part is what’s the current number of US troops mobilized in Europe to bolster NATO since the invasion? Is that still about 10,000? And then also, is it correct that there’s about 2.8 billion dollars in presidential draw down authority that’s gone unused and will be allowed to expire at the end of the fiscal year?

Pat Ryder: (17:43)
Okay. So in terms of US troop presence in Europe, yes, the numbers have remained the same. We’re at about 100,000 US forces in the AOR in the addition to the troops that we deployed to provide additional support. In terms of-

Pat Ryder: (18:03)
… support, provide additional support. In terms of aid for Ukraine, certainly I don’t want to speculate about future funding, other than to say that we are committed to using the aid that we have to support Ukraine, and will continue to work very closely with the inter-agency and with Congress to ensure that we’re spending that aid as expeditiously as possible to support them in their fight.

Speaker 7: (18:35)
All right. Thank you.

Pat Ryder: (18:37)
Yes, ma’am?

Felicia Schwartz: (18:38)
I’m Felicia Schwartz from the Financial Times. On the training, in the past we’ve gotten numbers of how many Ukrainians have gone through, I mean, unspecific systems, like HIMARS or drones in some instances. Do you have any updated numbers, or even ballpark figures about how many Ukrainians have been through training at this point?

Pat Ryder: (19:00)
I don’t have that right in front of me, but let me take that question and we’ll see what we can provide you. [inaudible 00:19:05] back at the phone line here. Heather from USNI

Heather: (19:11)
Thanks so much. I was just wondering if we can get an updated maritime update of what’s going on out in Ukraine in the Black Sea.

Pat Ryder: (19:20)
Sure. I can talk in broad terms, Heather. We continue to see the grain shipments departing Odesa, which is a positive thing. We continue to stay focused on that. In terms of operational updates, clearly I don’t want to get into intelligence from the podium here, other than to say that we keep a close eye on that region as the conflict continues to unfold. Thank you. All right. Yes, sir.

Logan Ratick : (20:00)
Logan Ratick, Newsmax. Just a quick question for you about Taiwan again. What is The Pentagon’s assessment of the conflict between China and Taiwan right now in Taiwan Strait?

Pat Ryder: (20:10)
An assessment of the conflict in what sense?

Logan Ratick : (20:13)
Latest of what’s going on right now, in the last couple of days.

Pat Ryder: (20:17)
Well, in terms of specifics on the ground activity, I’d refer you to Taiwan. Obviously, from a US military standpoint, we continue to operate in the region. Most recently on 28 August, of course, with our Taiwan Strait transit. It’s one of those regions that we will continue to keep a close eye on with our partners and our allies in the region. Certainly, there is tension there. But we would call on China to continue to ensure the stability of the region, and I’ll just leave it at that. Thank you. We’ll go to Laura, and then one more on the phone here.

Laura: (20:58)
Just to follow-up on that, we heard from Colin Kahl a couple weeks ago that there were no new assessments that China was going to invade Taiwan any sooner than we previously thought. Now that a couple weeks have passed since these exercises happened and we’ve seen China kind of continuing to violate Taiwan’s airspace, is there any new assessments going on about the prospect of this happening in the next 5, 10 years?

Pat Ryder: (21:24)
Yeah. I’m not aware of any new assessments. Louis?

Louis: (21:29)
Taking you go back to the questions about North Korea, what are some of the capabilities that North Korea could actually offer on Russia in its fight in Ukraine?

Pat Ryder: (21:39)
Well, the information that we have is that Russia has specifically asked for ammunition. But in terms of the capabilities, I don’t want to speculate on what Russia may or may not need beyond that or what they could offer.

Louis: (21:56)
Are you seeing any indications that Russia is making similar reach-out efforts to friendly nations around the world? I mean, we’ve seen the Iran drone deal. Now this information, which you’ve declassified. Are they making other contacts around the world to do pretty much the same thing, which is reach out for ammunition and other [inaudible 00:22:18]?

Pat Ryder: (22:18)
So based on the information that I have, I would say, at this point in time, we’ve seen North Korea and Iran as the countries that they’ve reached out to. So, thank you. Okay. Let’s go to Jeff Seldin, VOA.

Jeff Seldin: (22:33)
Thank you, General. Thanks very much for doing this. One question on Russia, one on Iran. Just generally, what is the latest that The Pentagon has in terms of any changes to Russia’s nuclear posture, especially with the Ukrainian counteroffensive seeming to make some steps? Also, on Iran. Can you explain, what does The Pentagon make of Iran’s increased aggressiveness, both in … We saw it last week, with the attempts to capture a couple of the cell drones. But are you seeing that matched by the IRGC or Iran’s proxy forces, whether in the Middle East or beyond, in terms of Iran’s aggressive posture?

Pat Ryder: (23:13)
Yeah. Thanks, Jeff. In terms of your first question, no changes in terms of the posture. Again, that is an area that we’ll just continue to keep a very close eye on. As far as the motivations behind Iran, again, I’d refer you to them for any discussion of their motivations. In terms of, if you look at the behavior of Iran over the longterm in this region of the world, these types of incidents, unfortunately, are not that uncommon. Again, it’s an area that we continue to monitor. But the kind of unprofessional, inappropriate behavior, when it comes to these type of harassing actions, are not helpful in the region when it comes to preserving peace, and stability, and international waterways. Thanks, Jeff. All right. Let me go to Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose.

Jeff Schogol: (24:18)
Thank you. The Defense Department will stop issuing the National Defense Service Medal as of December 31st. Would it be accurate to say the department is acknowledging the Global War on Terrorism has ended?

Pat Ryder: (24:31)
Well, certainly we want to recognize those who have supported and engaged in this operation. Certainly, over the last 20 years, a lot of men and women in the US Military have worked very hard to counter terrorism. But in terms of the actual medal, Jeff, let me get back to you on that and its current status. Thank you. All right. Any others in the room here? Yes, sir.

Speaker 8: (25:03)
Sir. In light of President Biden’s recent speech in Philadelphia, does The Pentagon have a position on the use of serving military forces in photo ops like that?

Pat Ryder: (25:15)
Yeah. Thanks for the question. I think The White House addressed that question the other day, so I’d refer you back to The White House. All right. Let me go to Mike Brest, Washington Examiner.

Mike Brest: (25:28)
Asked and answered. Thank you.

Pat Ryder: (25:30)
Nancy from Wall Street Journal?

Nancy: (25:32)
Thank you. I’d like to go back to an announcement you made last week about a review of Afghanistan for purposes of a Presidential Unit Citation. Can we please get a list of all open reports related to, excuse me, all open reviews related to Afghanistan? Also, I’d like to revisit something that Tony was asking earlier. Secretary Austin, when he announced the after-action report, said that it was important that we are able to learn a lesson. That he would do so, and that that review would be happening in the days ahead. That was more than a year ago. I would ask that you please take the question of when that report will be declassified, or some version of it. I don’t think it’s fair to the American public that it’s been promised, some public accounting of what happened in those final days of Afghanistan. An open-ended promise of maybe declassifying such an essential report. Thank you.

Pat Ryder: (26:25)
Yeah. Thanks, Nancy. Yes. Again, certainly I’ll commit to taking that question. As part of this process, obviously, and as a organization that, for obvious reasons, was very actively involved in Afghanistan, we want to make sure that we’re capturing those lessons learned. And that we’re able to apply those lessons not only to today, but future operations. Certainly understand the interest in this topic, both as a service member and as an American. So again, I’ll take that question and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can in terms-

Pat Ryder: (27:03)
That question and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can, in terms of what we’ll be able to provide on an unclassified note. Then I’m sorry, you had another part to your question. Oh, on the unit citations. Again, part of that direction was for the services to do the expedited review. As far as which units they recommend for the Presidential Unit Citation. The services in and of themselves should have information on their own efforts. Certainly this is not the only recognition that’s being provided or has been provided for operations related to Afghanistan, but we’ll take your question and provide what we can. Thank you. Okay. Let me go to Paul Hanley, AFP.

Paul Hanley: (27:55)
Hi, can you hear me? Can you hear me?

Pat Ryder: (28:05)
I can hear you.

Paul Hanley: (28:06)
Okay. Sorry. Look going back to the sail drones. Can you say on what basis these were recovered, what demands did the U.S. Navy make to the Iranians? Was there a threat leveled? Was there kinetic force considered? Stepping back more broadly, can you say how many of these have you deployed in the Gulf and are they only there? Is the Navy using them in such a large number elsewhere in the world?

Pat Ryder: (28:34)
Sure. To answer your first question. As I understand that the Iranian Navy held these sail drones on their deck of their ship overnight and returned them the next morning. In terms of how long they’ve been operating in the vicinity or in this area. This is part of… These drones are operated as part of 5th Fleet’s Task Force 59. They’ve been operating in the region since the beginning of the year, so January of 2022. They are a way that we are able to provide information to NAVSAT quickly, as far as safely transiting the area, providing information in terms of potential issues or threats in the area. But bottom line is that again, that there was no situation in which forces were, as you put it, hostile. This was, they took them. Then the two U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers that were operating in the vicinity responded, moved into the area. But then shortly after, like I said, overnight, the Iranians released them. Thank you. All right, we’ve got time for just a couple more. We’ll go to Tony Bertucci, inside defense.

Tony Bertucci: (30:05)
Thank you. I appreciate it. Last week, DOT&E Nickolas Guertin was tapped for a job to be an ASD with the Navy for research development and acquisition. Those are two very different jobs, right? One’s a unbiased evaluator of weapons programs. The other one is an advocate for weapons programs. Is Mr. Guertin going to stay on as DOT&E while he pursues confirmation in the Navy job? Then how does the department adjust to potential conflict of interest that this might cause?

Pat Ryder: (30:37)
Yeah, thanks very much for the question, Tony. Let me take that one and get back to you. I just don’t have the insight to provide on that. Let me get back to you on that one. Barbara Starr, CNN.

Tony Capaccio: (30:54)
I wanted to follow up on a couple of things. On Afghanistan, because Military Public Affairs does have the job of communicating information to the public as long as it doesn’t violate national security. Can you get us at least an answer on what office might be advocating in front of the secretary for some kind of declassification of this report. Who is putting the case to him, if anyone, that it’s a good idea to offer some level of public knowledge on this? My second question is I’m still not hearing you use the word counter offensive in regards to the Ukrainian moves in Kherson and around there. I’m curious why you’re still, the Pentagon is still not comfortable saying counter offensive. Very quickly, my third question, can you give us any indication do you have concerns that Russia might be reaching out to China for munitions or that the Chinese may be offering munitions to Russia? Does that concern you? Thank you.

Pat Ryder: (32:06)
Barbara, so on your first question, certainly Public Affairs does play a role in providing advice and counsel when it comes to the public release of information of interest to the public and to members of the Department of Defense. We are, and will be a part of those conversations. Again, I take the point, it’s well taken in terms of the importance of this information, not only to our service members, but to the American public.

Pat Ryder: (32:38)
In regards to Ukrainian operations, this is a Ukrainian military operation. I’ll leave it to the Ukrainians. We’ll leave it to the Ukrainians to characterize or define their operations in terms of where they are in their campaign. Again, it’s not appropriate for me as a Department of Defense spokesperson to characterize it for them.

Pat Ryder: (33:04)
Then finally, in regards to China and Russia, certainly as evidenced by Russia’s most recent exercises and other activities, there is a relationship between China and Russia. In terms of what Russia may be asking of China or not, I don’t have any information to provide from the podium on that, other than to say that in an era of strategic competition, we’ll continue to keep a very close eye on Russia and China and the threats that they pose to international stability and the international rules and norms that have largely kept the world safe for the last 70 plus years since World War II. Thanks Barbara. Okay. Thank you very much, everybody. I appreciate your time today.

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