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Blinken threatens Russia with ‘swift, severe’ response

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 to the media after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland, January 21, 2022. (Reuters photo)

After the American-Russian talks in Geneva, Switzerland, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has threatened Russia with a "swift, severe" response if Russia invades neighboring Ukraine, despite Moscow’s repeated denials.

The top American and Russian diplomats failed to make any major breakthrough at talks on Ukraine on Friday in Geneva, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying Moscow was still waiting for a written response to its demands for security guarantees.

Blinken said there are grounds to hope that mutual security concerns could be addressed.

"Based on the conversations we've had -- the extensive conversations -- over the past week and today here in Geneva I think there are grounds for and a means to address some of the mutual concerns that we have about security," Blinken said.

He called the talks as "frank and substantive" but added that Russia now faced a choice.

"It can choose the path of diplomacy that can lead to peace and security, or the path that will lead only to conflict, severe consequences and international condemnation," Blinken told reporters.

"We've been clear - if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine's border, that's a renewed invasion. It will be met with swift, severe and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies,” he added.

This comes after US Vice President Harris threatened Russia with “severe costs” if it launches any military action in Ukraine.

Harris issued the threat during an interview with NBC on Thursday as host Savannah Guthrie pressed her on President Joe Biden’s comments the evening prior about Russia where he said suggested that a “minor” Russian incursion in Ukraine would not trigger massive economic sanctions that he has promised.

“If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin takes aggressive action we are prepared to levy serious and severe costs, period,” Harris said.

She insisted that the Biden administration has been clear about the penalties Russia would face if it were to invade Ukraine.

During a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Biden suggested that the US might ignore a “minor” Russian incursion in Ukraine.

“It depends on what he does as to what extent we’re going to be able to get total unity on the NATO front,” Biden said, referring to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do,” Biden said.

However, a day after the remarks, Biden said that any Russian movement into Ukraine “is an invasion.”

"I've been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion," Biden said on Thursday.

"Let there be no doubt at all that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price," Biden added.

He also noted that there was also the threat for a cyberattack or para-military action by Russia that would require a coordinated response from Washington and its allies.

Blinken on Wednesday visited Ukraine where he said that Russia could launch a new attack on Ukraine at "very short notice.”

The development comes as US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of preparing a false-flag operation to invade Ukraine.

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