Monday, January 17, 2022

Blinken warns Russia against ‘renewed aggression’ in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russia against taking any “further action” towards Ukraine, saying on Tuesday that “any new aggression will have dire consequences.”

Speaking to reporters with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkeviks during a visit to Riga, Blinken said the United States is “very concerned” about the activities of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine.

Blinken and his NATO counterpart are discussing concerns about Russia’s military build-up during a NATO ministerial meeting in Riga. Blinken said he would have much more to say on the subject after those consultations.

Ahead of the ministerial talks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to de-escalate tensions in the region, saying the military build-up was “unprovoked and unexplained”.

“Any future Russian aggression against Ukraine will have a high price and serious political and economic consequences for Russia,” Stoltenberg said on Monday.

In Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that his military could be forced to respond to a Western-led expansion of Ukraine’s military infrastructure if “red lines” were crossed by NATO.

“If some kind of strike system appears on the territory of Ukraine, then the flight time to Moscow will be 7-10 minutes, and if the hypersonic weapon is deployed, it will be five minutes. Just imagine,” Putin said.

“Then we have to do something similar with respect to people who bully us like this. And we can do that now,” Putin said.

The Russian leader noted that his military has recently successfully test-fired a new sea-based hypersonic missile that will be in service early next year.

Talks in Riga also come as NATO members Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland’s neighboring Belarus deal with a border crisis.

The European Union accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of trying to cross thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, into Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to travel to Belarus and destabilize the European Union. The European Union says Lukashenko is retaliate for sanctions imposed against his government.

Blinken said on Tuesday that the US, in coordination with the European Union, was preparing additional sanctions against Belarus, which he called “ongoing attacks on democracy, on human rights, on international norms.”

Responding to a question from the VoA, Blinken said that he and Latvian Foreign Minister Rinkevi have “unfortunately focused on the actions that Belarus is trying to sow as well as the suppression of its own people and their democratic aspirations”. Taking the case of using migration as a weapon. Division and instability in Europe.”

“We are in close coordination with the European Union preparing all UN sanctions,” Blinken told reporters.

Another focus of the NATO ministerial meeting is to update what the group calls its Strategic Concept, which was last changed a decade ago.

Stoltenberg said it was important to revisit the strategic document given the changing nature of threats facing NATO, which he called a “more dangerous world”.

“We look at Russia’s behavior, we look at cyber, we look at terrorist threats, we look at the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Stoltenberg said. “And we see the security consequences for China which is now becoming more and more global power.”

Blinken is due to travel to Sweden on Wednesday to meet fellow ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and discuss bilateral ties with Swedish officials.

Alex Yanevsky contributed to this report. Some information for this report. Came from Reuters.

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