Wednesday, January 19, 2022

US calls on Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine

A top US defense official says Washington will not be alone when it needs to act in response to Russia’s massive military build-up on its border with Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday in Seoul for a meeting with South Korean officials that he would not speculate about how Washington would react to Russia’s provocations against Ukraine, should Moscow know the US would not be alone.

“Everything we do will be done as part of an international community,” Austin said during a news conference with his South Korean counterpart, further calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “reduce the temperature in the region”. did.

“However, the best-case scenario is that we will not see an intrusion,” the US Defense Secretary said. The presence of Russia’s “adequate” military in the border areas is only part of the problem.

“We also see disturbing rhetoric, rhetoric in the information space,” Austin said. “We’ve heard the president [Volodymyr]Zelensky expressed concern about attempts to undermine his administration.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meeting with NATO counterparts in Latvia on Wednesday, warned that the US was preparing to impose economic sanctions against Moscow if needed.

“We have made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond strongly, including a number of high-impact economic measures that we have avoided using in the past,” he said.

Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm on Thursday.

Ukrainian officials have said Russia has deployed at least 90,000 troops along the border and in Crimea, which Moscow illegally seized in 2014.

But Russian officials have accused Ukraine of building its own military.

Earlier this week Russian President Vladimir Putin also reiterated concerns about US and NATO exercises in the Back Sea, and warned against describing NATO as a “strike system” on Ukrainian soil.

“What are we to do in such a scenario? We have to do something similar with respect to people who threaten us in this way,” he said at an investment forum in Moscow. “We can do that now.”

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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