U.S., amid war escalation concerns, respects Ukraine's sovereignty

White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre, with Strategic Communications Coordinator Kirby, holds the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington
White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 27, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The United States has made clear to Ukraine its concerns about any escalation of the war with Russia, but it respects Ukrainian sovereignty, including decisions about how Kiev uses weapons supplied by Washington, the White House's national security spokesman said.

"We have been consistent on our concerns over escalation. We have not encouraged them to do that," John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday, after apparent Ukrainian drone strikes on two airbases deep inside Russia.

Kirby added the principle behind the war in Ukraine was one of sovereignty, and "unlike the Russians, we respect Ukrainian sovereignty."

"When we give them a weapons system, it belongs to them. Where they use it, how they use it, how much ammunition they use to use that system, those are Ukrainian decisions, and we respect that," he said.

He said the United States has had conversations with Ukraine about accountability of weapons systems and made clear U.S. concerns about escalating the war. "But in the end these are Ukrainian decisions that they have to make."

Reporting by Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Franklin Paul and John Stonestreet

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