Updated Mar 13, 2022 - World

Jake Sullivan: U.S. will defend "every inch of NATO territory" as Russia strikes western Ukraine

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the U.S. will "defend every inch of NATO territory" in the wake of a Russian attack on western Ukraine this weekend.

Driving the news: A barrage of Russian missiles struck a training facility near the Ukraine-Poland border, killing at least 35 people, Ukrainian officials said Sunday, per AP.

Why it matters: The facility in Yavoriv, Ukraine, is only about 15 miles from the border with Poland, and it was subject to the westernmost target hit by Russian missiles since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine 18 days ago.

What they're saying: "The United States will work with our allies to defend every inch of NATO territory, and that means every inch," Sullivan told CBS' "Face the Nation."

  • Sullivan added that an attack on NATO territory — even an accidental shot — the "NATO alliance would respond to that."
  • Sullivan also told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the attack was "not a surprise" to the American intelligence and national security community, which predicted that Russian President Vladimir Putin would launch attacks all across Ukraine.
  • "What it shows is that Vladimir Putin is frustrated by the fact that his forces are not making the kind of progress that he thought that they would make against major cities including Kyiv, that he's expanding the number of targets, that he's lashing out and he's trying to cause damage in every part of the country," Sullivan said.

State of play: The roughly 30 Russian missiles that targeted the facility, known as the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, are also estimated to have injured 134 people, according to Lviv region governor Maksym Kozytskyi, per AP.

  • “The airstrike was carried out from the Black and Azov seas,” Kozytskyi wrote in a Telegram message Sunday, per NBC News.
  • He added that most of the missiles "were shot down because the air defense system worked," per AP.
  • Kozytskyi reiterated calls for a no-fly zone, saying that "now that the shelling is approaching the borders of NATO countries, this is the crucial moment," per NBC News.
  • The call for a no-fly zone was reiterated by the deputy mayor of Lviv, Andriy Moskalenko, during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, who said it could "save a lot of lives."

But, but, but: Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby also made an appearance on ABC's "This Week," and when asked by host Martha Raddatz if a no-fly zone could have prevented the attack in Yavoriv, Kirby replied, "No, I don't think so."

  • "No-fly zone has a nice air policing sound to it, but I participated in one as a young officer on an aircraft carrier way back in the early 90s. It is combat. You have to be willing to shoot and to be shot at," he added.

The big picture: The attack in western Ukraine comes after Russia warned that arms shipments from NATO countries would be "legitimate targets" for Russian strikes.

  • The International Peacekeeping and Security Center has hosted international NATO drills in the past and has been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with the guidance of the U.S. and NATO allies, AP reported.

Go deeper: Why Ukraine wants a no-fly zone — but is unlikely to get one

Go deeper