KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with his Russian counterpart in Switzerland this week as tensions rise between the US and Russia over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the State Department said.
Blinken arrived in Kiev on Wednesday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, will travel to Berlin to meet with allies and will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. The hasty visit is intended to show US support for Ukraine and impress upon the need to de-escalate tensions on Russia.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki underscored the urgency. “We are now at a stage where Russia can attack Ukraine at any time. And what Secretary Blinken is going to do, it highlights very clearly that there is a diplomatic path ahead,” she said on Tuesday.
Saki said Russian President Vladimir Putin created a crisis by gathering 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and it was up to him and the Russians to decide whether to attack or not and then “suffer dire economic consequences.”
The US has not concluded whether Putin is planning to invade or whether the show of force is intended to squeeze security concessions without an actual conflict. Russia has rejected calls to withdraw its troops, saying it has the right to deploy its forces wherever it wants in its territory.
Blinken’s meetings came after inconclusive diplomatic talks between Moscow and the West in Europe last week that failed to resolve heavy disagreements over Ukraine and other security matters.
Instead, those meetings have raised fears of a Russian invasion, and the Biden administration has accused Russia of preparing a “false flag campaign.” To use as an excuse to interfere. Russia angrily denied the allegation,
From Kiev, Blinken will travel to Berlin, where he will meet with his German, British and French counterparts to discuss a possible response to any Russian military action. In Geneva on Friday, Blinken would test Lavrov over Russia’s interest in a “diplomatic off-ramp” to the crisis, a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity.
Blinken’s “visit and consultations are part of diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions caused by Russia’s military build-up and continued aggression against Ukraine,” the State Department said in a statement.
Blinken will meet with Zelensky and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba on Wednesday to “reinforce the United States’ commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the State Department said.
“This visit follows broad diplomacy with our European allies and partners to encourage Russia to choose a joint approach to address threats to Ukraine and diplomacy and de-escalation in the interests of security and stability. It is about our joint efforts,” it said.
CIA director William Burns visited Kiev last Wednesday to consult with his Ukrainian counterparts and discuss current assessments of the risk to Ukraine, a US official said, not being named to discuss Burns’ schedule. Speaking on condition of printing, which is classified. While there, he also discussed with Zelensky the current situation and efforts to reduce tensions.
Blinken spoke on the phone with Lavrov on Tuesday, referring to the diplomatic talks and meetings held last week. The State Department said Blinken “emphasized the importance of continuing a diplomatic route to defuse tensions” around the Russia-Ukraine situation and “reiterated the unshakable US commitment” to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Russia’s top diplomat Lavrov on Monday dismissed US allegations that his country was preparing an excuse to invade Ukraine. Speaking to reporters, he dismissed the US claim as “total propaganda”.
Lavrov reaffirmed that Russia expects a written response from the US and its allies this week to Moscow’s request for binding guarantees that NATO will not embrace Ukraine or any other ex-Soviet countries or deploy its forces and weapons there. Will do
Blinken underlined to Lavrov on Tuesday that any discussion of European security “must involve NATO allies and European partners, including Ukraine,” the State Department said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov emphasized key aspects of the Russian draft documents in the call with Blinken, including “a legally binding guarantee of Russia’s security in line with the principle of indivisibility of security approved by all countries in the Euro-Atlantic”. Has been imagined. It said Lavrov emphasized the importance of Washington to provide a written response to Russian proposals as soon as possible.
Washington and its allies strongly rejected Moscow’s demands during last week’s Russia-US talks and related NATO-Russia meeting in Geneva. in Brussels.
The White House said on Friday that US intelligence officials have concluded that Russia has already deployed rebels in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine to conduct sabotage operations there and to make excuses for a possible invasion. can be accused.
A delegation of US senators, ahead of Blinken’s visit to Kiev Was visiting Ukraine to emphasize Congress’s support for the country.
Jean Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, said, “Our bipartisan congressional delegation sends a clear message to the global community: The United States stands in unwavering support of our Ukrainian partners to defend its sovereignty and to withstand continued Russian aggression. Is.” in a statement.
Speaking on a visit to Kiev on Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock warned that “any further escalation would be a high price for the Russian regime – economic, political and strategic,” and stressed the need for talks to continue. .
“We are ready for a serious dialogue with Russia, because at this time diplomacy is the only way to avert this extremely dangerous situation,” she said.
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 Ukraine also threw its weight behind the expulsion of the Moscow-Allied leader and a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces in the country’s industrial heartland, Donbass.
Putin has warned that Moscow will take unspecified “military-technical measures” if the West obstructs its demands.
Associated Press writer Vladimir Ischenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.