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Blinken: US and European allies ‘stand resolutely against’ Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 14, 2021. (Reuters photo)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has again threatened Russia with "serious consequences" if it launches any military action in neighboring Ukraine and said that the United States and European allies are determined to “stand resolutely against” Russia, despite the fact that Moscow has rejected Washington’s allegations of preparing to invade the eastern European country. 

In an interview with the Reuters news agency on Friday, Blinken accused Russia of preparing for an attack on Ukraine by building up troops at the northern and eastern Ukrainian border.

He claimed that Russia is coordinating its activities, including the building of forces on its border with Ukraine, the threat of holding back natural gas to Europe this winter, and the support of Belarus’s weaponization of migrants on European borders.

“I think these things are joined,” Blinken said.

“But here's what's important — in everything that I heard from talking to European colleagues in the last few days, at NATO, and then at the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], there is not just the shared concern about what Russia is doing, but a determination to stand resolutely against it.”

Blinken stressed that President Joe Biden would convey to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow risks “serious consequences” if it does not deescalate the situation with Ukraine.

The Biden administration has said it has been working on a “set of initiatives” to make it “very, very, difficult” for Putin to invade Ukraine.

Speaking with the Brookings Institution on Friday, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also issued a threat of using force against Russia.

“Should Putin take action, virtually everything will be on the table,” she said.

US and NATO military officials have claimed that Russia could be contemplating such incursion, citing, what they call, "unusual" Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly said it was free to move its troops around within its own borders, and stated that its military buildup is not provocative. Russia said it is taking defensive measures against Ukraine’s closer alliance with the West and aspirations to join NATO.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow will act if the US-led NATO military alliance crosses its red lines in Ukraine.

Putin said the expansion of NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine was a red line he hoped would not be crossed.

The Russian leader further said Moscow would view the deployment of certain offensive missile capabilities on Ukrainian soil as a trigger.

Blinken said on Friday if Putin has concerns about NATO, then Moscow must cease aggressive behavior.

“Don't engage in actions that are provocative and that will cause a defensive alliance to shore up its defenses,” the secretary said.

Washington and its allies have been harping on about, what they claim is, Moscow's ill-intentioned plans for Ukraine since 2014, when a wave of protests overthrew Ukraine's democratically-elected pro-Moscow government and replaced it with a Western-leaning administration.

A crisis followed after the majority of people in Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to accept the new changes and took up arms against Ukrainian troops.

Kiev and the Western countries accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow denies the allegations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused NATO of deploying a significant amount of military hardware near Russia's borders.

The top Russian diplomat said Moscow would respond to security threats from Western countries and Ukraine if necessary.

On Thursday, Lavrov warned that Moscow will respond to any provocative moves by the United States to drag Ukraine into "geopolitical games.”

Russia’s Interfax news agency cited Lavrov as raising the alarm during talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.

The top Russian diplomat also said that Russia and the United States needed to agree on long-term security guarantees.


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