Washington warns Moscow of the possibility of imposing "significant" sanctions on it if it attacks Ukraine

 US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Wednesday referred to "evidence" that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, and warned Moscow to impose tough economic sanctions on it if it decided to go ahead with this plan.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for reaching "concrete agreements" that would prevent the eastern expansion of NATO and the deployment of weapons systems near the Russian borders, proposing the start of "substantive negotiations" on this issue.

At the conclusion of a NATO meeting in Riga, Blinken accused Moscow of massing "tens of thousands of additional combat forces" near the border, on the eve of a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Sweden.

"We are deeply concerned by the evidence that Russia planned major hostile actions against Ukraine, plans that include efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within as well as large-scale military operations," Blinken said.

"We don't know if President (Vladimir) Putin made a decision about the invasion. We know he is building the capacity to do that quickly, if he decides to do so.”

"Diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve this potential crisis," Blinken stressed.

"We have made it very clear to the Kremlin that we will retaliate, especially through a series of economic measures with significant impact that we have refrained from using in the past," he said.

Since last month, Kiev's western allies have been sounding the alarm over new reinforcements of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine and the possibility of an invasion by Moscow.

Moscow, which annexed Crimea in 2014 and is accused of supporting separatists fighting Kiev, denies preparing an attack and has accused NATO of stoking tensions.

Moscow hit back on Wednesday, accusing Ukraine of massing tens of thousands of troops in the country's east.

Putin called for negotiations with Western countries with the aim of obtaining "legal guarantees" in terms of not expanding NATO to the east and not deploying weapons systems that "threaten us very close to Russian territory."

"We propose to start substantive negotiations on this issue," he added during a ceremony in the Kremlin.

This comes at a time when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Wednesday for "direct negotiations" with Russia in order to "stop the war" with the Russian-backed separatists in the east of his country.

"We must tell the truth, which is that we will not be able to stop the war without direct negotiations with Russia," Zelensky said Wednesday in a speech to parliament.

Eastern Ukraine is witnessing a war between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists that erupted in 2014, after Moscow annexed the Crimea. The conflict claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people.

But Moscow, which denies any support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, appeared to reject the call on Wednesday, reiterating that the war is an internal problem in Ukraine.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We are aware of attempts aimed at presenting Russia as part of this conflict. This is not the case.”

"The Donbass war can only be stopped through negotiations between Ukrainians," he added.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland on Wednesday called for a "complete ceasefire" in the Donbass conflict in eastern Ukraine over the Christmas period.

"With Christmas approaching, it's time to declare a complete ceasefire, exchange prisoners and open crossings to allow families to move around," Nuland said during a forum on security in Kiev via video link.

"We have encouraged Moscow and Kiev to work together on a set of measures of this kind," she added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a warning to the West against crossing the Kremlin's "red lines" with regard to conducting military exercises and strengthening armaments in Ukraine.

In Riga, Blinken also noted that NATO countries "make sure that Ukraine has the means to defend itself."

He said that the alliance "will study what it should do in the event of a new Russian aggression, to strengthen its own defenses."

Blinken considered that Russia is using the same “method” it used when it took control of Crimea, especially by intensifying “disinformation” to present Kiev as the “aggressor.”

The Ukrainian foreign minister, whose request to join NATO was not accepted, urged the alliance in Riga to put in place a "deterrence package" to put Russia to its end.

For his part, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell considered it "must be made clear that any aggression against Ukraine will be followed by a firm response."

التعليقات والاراء

اضافة تعليق