US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Kiev on Wednesday for talks with Ukrainian leaders in what he called “a diplomatic effort to defuse tensions around unprovoked Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders”.
Stays in Kiev include meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, as well as visits with personnel at the US embassy.
“We are now at a stage where Russia can attack Ukraine at any time,” a senior State Department official told reporters during a call briefing on Tuesday. Decides to pursue further military offensive against Ukraine.
Russia continues its troop and harsh rhetoric against Ukraine, moving Russian forces to Belarus over the weekend.
“The US side believes that diplomacy is the only way to successfully resolve this conflict,” the senior State Department official said.
Wednesday’s visit to Ukraine is the first leg of a quickly arranged visit that will take Blinken to Berlin on Thursday and a meeting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Beerbock for “recent diplomatic relations with Russia and joint efforts to stop the Russian aggression against Ukraine.” to discuss”. State Department said.
Blinken is then set to urge Russia to “take immediate steps” to ease tensions at the border as he meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday.
Blinken spoke with Lavrov on Tuesday about the “importance of continuing a diplomatic route to defuse tensions surrounding deeply troubled Russian military build-up in and near Ukraine,” the State Department said in a statement about the talks. emphasized.
“The secretary reiterated the unshakable US commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and emphasized that any discussion of European security should involve NATO allies and European partners, including Ukraine,” the statement said.
The build-up of an estimated 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border has raised fears that Moscow may be planning military action against its neighbor, which was once part of the Russian-led Soviet Union. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Blinken’s visit follows talks between Russian and US officials in Geneva last week aimed at resolving differences over Ukraine and other security issues. No progress was reported.
Russia has demanded a guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO.
Last week, the Biden administration accused Moscow of preparing a “false flag operation” for use as a ploy to intervene in Ukraine, a charge Russia has angrily denied.
A US delegation visited Kiev on Monday to show support for Ukraine amid the standoff with Russia.
US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, told VOA’s Ukrainian service, “We have Democrats and Republicans of very different political views here to say that we stand with Ukraine. And if Vladimir Putin is to invade this country.” If the U.S. chooses to take this treacherous undemocratic path, there will be severe and sharp sanctions.
US Senator Kevin Cramer, a Republican, told the VOA, “If something happens the United States will not just sit idly by and be a bystander. What we want to do is stop that from happening. We want to be a deterrent.” We want to be part of the solution before the fight starts.”
Chris Hannas contributed to this report. Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.