Friday, January 21, 2022

Blinken warns Russia of ‘serious consequences’ if it invades Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday warned his Russian counterpart of “serious consequences” if Russia invades neighboring Ukraine and urged him to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict between the Eastern European countries.

Blinken’s warning came ahead of a meeting of two senior diplomats in Stockholm to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a day after Blinken declared that the US would “strongly respond” to a Russian attack against Ukraine, including “high-impact Includes a series of economic measures “has avoided using in the past.”

“The best way to avert a crisis is through diplomacy, and that’s what I look forward to discussing with Sergei,” Blinken said during a media briefing before the meeting with Lavrov.

Blinken said the US would help Russia and Ukraine fulfill their obligations under a 2014 peace deal aimed at ending the war between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces in the eastern part of the former Soviet republic.

But “if Russia decides to escalate the confrontation, it will have dire consequences,” Blinken warned.

Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that Russia was ready for talks with Ukraine. “We, as President [Vladimir] Putin has said no one wants conflict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters in Moscow that Ukraine’s “aggressive and increasingly deeply provocative actions” on the border with Russia raise concerns over a possible escalation of hostilities.

“The potential for hostilities in Ukraine is still high,” Peskov said.

After Blinken’s meeting with Lavrov, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Blinken “reiterated the call of the United States that Russia withdraw its military and return to a peacetime posture and the Minsk Agreements.” And observe the ceasefire. Donbass.”

A senior US official told reporters the meeting was “serious, calm and business-like”. The official said there was no agreement in the talks, but both sides agreed to continue the talks.

Blinken had previously expressed concern about Russia’s “aggressive stance” towards Ukraine as he met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba.

Kuleba said Ukraine would “continue to demonstrate restraint” and called on allies to prepare for possible actions that would make Russian President Putin “think twice before resorting to military force.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told members of parliament on Wednesday that direct talks with Russia are the only way to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of increasing the number of troops in the area along their common border. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and supported separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking on Wednesday in Moscow, Putin said his government would seek guarantees against NATO’s expansion to the east and stopping the deployment of weapons systems near Russia’s borders.

alexander yanevsky contributed to this report. Some information for this report has been received from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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