Pentagon slammed for lack of transparency by BANNING media from embeds

Pentagon slammed for lack of transparency by BANNING media from embedding with troops in Ukraine standoff because the focus is on ‘reaching a diplomatic solution’ – while Kremlin shows off their snipers and military games

  • Military reporters have asked the Pentagon to embed with troops in Europe 
  • But Press Secretary John Kirby on Wednesday said access was not possible
  • He said that all decisions were based on trying to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis
  • Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry continues issuing propaganda images
  • On Wednesday, they included pictures of fighter jets and snipers on maneuvers 

The Pentagon on Wednesday said it would not be allowing reporters to embed with troops deployed to Europe during the stand-off with Ukraine, despite requests from military news organizations for greater transparency.

Moscow has kept up a steady stream of photographs of troops engaged in drills close to the Ukrainian border – including tanks and snipers.

But with more U.S. troops being deployed to NATO’s eastern flank, American reporters and photographers have been told the Biden administration will not follow convention and send journalists with them. 

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby suggested the decision was based on trying to de-escalate tensions.

‘We’re just not at a point now where we are able to provide that kind of access,’ he said. 

‘And if that changes, believe me, I’ll be the first one to let you know that but we’re still working our way through what sort of coverage is best suited for this particular mission.’

Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border and held drills in the region, but insists it is not planning to invade its neighbor.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said there will be no access for journalists to US troops in eastern Europe. He said everything was geared up to de-escalating Ukraine stand-off

On Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry shared photographs of snipers on maneuvers in Tambov Oblast, as it keeps up a stream of propaganda images

One of three Russian ships, an Ivan Gren class large landing ship the ‘Pyotr Morgunov’ sails through the Bosphorus Strait en route to the Black Sea on February 9, 2022

Instead Moscow says it wants guarantees from NATO that it will not allow Ukraine to join the alliance. 

The Pentagon says about 1,700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division are going to Poland and about half have now arrived. 

In the meantime Moscow’s Ministry of Defense has pumped out images of its forces in action.

On Wednesday, that included snipers on skis engaged in tactical maneuvers and pictures of air defense systems arriving in convoy in Belarus for joint drills.

It also distributed photographs of Sukhoi Su-35S fighter jets on combat alert, practising aerial interceptions. 

At the weekend, the Military Reporters and Editors Association wrote to the Pentagon asking for access to U.S. troops deploying to the region.  

‘By allowing reporters and photographers to show what life is like for U.S. troops on the ground, in the air, and at sea, the Pentagon will allow the American public to understand the responsibilities and sacrifices that both service members and their families make,’ they wrote.

‘It has been several years since Americans have had such an opportunity to see and hear directly from troops in the field.’

The Belarus Defense Ministry issued images of air defense systems arriving for joint Russian-Belarusian drills at an unknown location on Wednesday. The drills have raised tensions

And in another image, the Russian Defense Ministry showed a Sukhoi Su-35S fighter jet on combat alert taking off but without sharing its location

Embeds ended under the Trump administration and have not returned under Biden, despite promises of transparency.   

Kirby went on to say that his decision was based on the best way to avoid war. 

‘In a nutshell, what we’re trying to achieve here is a de escalation of the tensions and a diplomatic path forward and virtually everything that we’ve done, everything I’ve set up here, and quite frankly, everything I’ve not set up here is designed to help us get to a better outcome – a peaceful outcome, a diplomatic outcome,’ he told reporters during his regular briefing.

‘Nobody wants to see – with the exception of possibly Mr. Putin – any military conflict breaking out in Europe, so we’re being very careful.’

Earlier the White House announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Europe next week as part of an effort to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine.

An official said she will meet partners and allies during the Munich Security Conference.

And it emerged that the White House has signed off on a Pentagon plan to use U.S. troops in Poland to help evacuate American citizens from Ukraine if Russia moves on its neighbor.  

Officials told the Wall Street Journal they will set up checkpoints, tent camps and other temporary facilities close to the border with Ukraine in preparation to receive fleeing Americans, in an effort to prevent the chaotic scenes that emerged from Afghanistan last year.

Their mission would be to help coordinate an evacuation of some of the estimated 30,000 Americans in Ukraine in the event of an invasion, but would not involve flying them out of the country. 

Guiding the planning, they said, was the memory of the Kabul airlift. 

‘Everyone who lived the evacuation from Afghanistan felt it was remarkable but also chaotic,’ one defense official said. 

‘That was a messy, messy withdrawal. We don’t want a chaotic withdrawal from Ukraine.’

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