Blinken arrives in Ukraine, says Russia could attack at short notice

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KYIV (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday in a whistle-stop diplomatic push to defuse tensions with Moscow over Ukraine, warning that Russia could launch a brand new attack at “very short notice”.

Blinken will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after which journey to Berlin for talks with allies earlier than going to Geneva to satisfy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after negotiations final week produced no breakthrough.

Russia has massed tens of 1000’s of troops close to Ukraine’s borders in what Kyiv and its allies worry could be preparation for a brand new navy offensive in opposition to Ukraine.

Adding to the jitters, Russia moved further troops into Belarus this week forward of what Minsk mentioned have been deliberate joint workouts subsequent month. Moscow denies plans to launch an attack however has pressed Washington for safety ensures, together with a block on Ukraine becoming a member of the NATO alliance.

Speaking to diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Blinken mentioned he strongly hopes that Russia can persist with a diplomatic and peaceable path when he meets Lavrov, and warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could give the order to attack at short notice.

“As you all know very, very properly, we now have been engaged in the previous couple of months in an intense concentrate on Ukraine due to the numerous buildup we have seen of Russian forces we’ve seen close to the Ukrainian border,” Blinken mentioned.

The Russian buildup, he mentioned, was happening with “no provocation, no cause.”

“We know that there are plans in place to extend that power much more on very short notice, and that offers President Putin the capability, additionally on very short notice, to take additional aggressive motion in opposition to Ukraine,” Blinken mentioned.

Russia’s actions had attracted the eye of Washington, and likewise of its allies in Europe and past, he mentioned.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration final month accepted the availability of a further $200 million https://www.reuters.com/world/us-approved-200-mln-defense-aid-ukraine-december-state-department-official-2022-01-19 in defensive safety help to Ukraine and gave extra such support final 12 months than at any level since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

U.S. SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE

State Department spokesman Ned Price mentioned Blinken’s go to was “to reiterate our help for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Washington has warned Russia of extreme penalties if it mounts a brand new offensive, whereas promising to beef up its safety presence in Europe.

“Should Russia additional invade Ukraine, we are going to present further defensive materials to the Ukrainians above and past that which we’re already in the method of offering,” a State Department official mentioned forward of Blinken’s arrival.

Blinken will meet Zelenskiy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday.

Then in Berlin he’ll meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and later the Transatlantic Quad, referring to a format that entails the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

Germany signalled on Tuesday that it could halt the Nord Stream 2 https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-signals-it-could-halt-gas-pipeline-if-russia-invades-ukraine-2022-01-18 pipeline from Russia if Moscow invades Ukraine.

Blinken spoke with Lavrov on Tuesday and the 2 determined in the decision that it might be helpful to satisfy in individual.

Lavrov individually mentioned Moscow would welcome U.S. diplomatic efforts and reiterated Russian accusations that Ukraine was “sabotaging” agreements aimed at ending the battle between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces in japanese Ukraine.

Despite diplomatic engagements this month, Washington has but to see Russia de-escalate tensions and Moscow could launch an attack on Ukraine at any time in January or February, a senior U.S. official mentioned earlier.

“We at the moment are at a stage the place Russia could at any level launch an attack on Ukraine,” the official mentioned

Kyiv has sought weapons from Western nations to shore up its defence. On Monday, Britain mentioned it had begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to assist it defend itself.

(Writing by Matthias Williams)



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