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US, NATO are 'united with Ukraine' against Russia: US diplomat

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 Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried (R) meets Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kiev, Ukraine on December 13, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

An American diplomat has said the United States and its NATO allies al are "united with Ukraine" against Russia, which Americans say is engaged in a "military build-up" along the border with Ukraine.

The US and its allies have for weeks accused Russia of planning an invasion of its southern neighbor, Ukraine.

"The truth is that we are united with Ukraine, our NATO allies, and partners around the world in our efforts to pursue diplomacy and de-escalate a dangerous situation - but such efforts are not a concession," said Karen Donfried, the US assistant secretary of state, in a visit with top Ukrainian officials on Tuesday.

The US embassy in Kiev said Donfried had reinforced Washington's commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and discussed a path toward diplomatic progress.

The US State Department said on Saturday, Donfried will travel to Russia after Ukraine. 

Donfried will "meet with senior government officials to discuss Russia’s military buildup and to reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine," the department said in its statement.

The statement pointed out that Donfried aimed to push for an end to the crisis in eastern Ukraine "through implementation of the Minsk agreements in support of the Normandy Format."

In 2015, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France reached an agreement in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to end the Donbass regional conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Last week, US President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart against Moscow taking military action against Kiev, claiming the Kremlin would pay "a terrible price" and suffer massive consequences if it were to attack its southern neighbor.

"I made it absolutely clear to President Putin ... that if he moves on Ukraine, the economic consequences for his economy are going to be devastating, devastating," he said.

However, Biden said the possibility of the US sending its troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian attack was "never on the table.”

In related news, Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Tuesday Russia would face "massive consequences" if it invades Ukraine, after a phone call with her Russian counterpart in which she said Kiev's territory integrity must not be violated.

The German Foreign Ministry said its new top diplomat had called for an "open and honest" talk with Russia over the Ukraine crisis during her exchange with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The phone call was the first publicly announced contact between Germany and Russia since Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition government took office last week.

Putin, for his part, said Russia wanted security talks between Moscow, Washington and its NATO allies to begin without delay.

We want "to immediately launch negotiations with the United States and NATO in order to develop international legal guarantees for the security of our country," the Kremlin said in a statement on Tuesday.

Western sources claim tens of thousands of Russian troops are stationed near the borders of the ex-Soviet republic, where the West has accused the Kremlin of backing pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.


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