Jan 20, 2022: The US and its Western allies have asserted they will unite to respond strongly to Russian intervention in Ukraine before talks between top diplomats in Washington and Moscow on the crisis.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that any “new aggression” by Moscow against its neighbor would be met with a “severe, swift and united response” from the White House and its allies.
Antony Blinken has already held talks in Berlin with officials from the so-called transatlantic quad group – made up of the US, Germany, France and the United Kingdom aimed at finding a way to defuse tensions with the Kremlin.
Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, after which he is expected to push through Russia’s broader wish list of security demands to ensure peace. In the wake of the talks, Washington’s European allies also insisted on Thursday that they agree with the United States following President Joe Biden’s remarks on Wednesday that there could be disagreements between Western leaders and how to react in the event of an attack
The head of the European Union’s executive arm, Ursula von der Leyen, said the bloc would respond to any Russian intervention in Ukraine “with major economic and financial sanctions”.
Moreover, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock demanded Moscow take urgent “steps towards de-escalation”, cautioning any “further aggressive behaviour or aggression” from Russia would result in “serious consequences”.
While talking to reporters at the White House, Biden said “What you are going to see is that if Russia attacks, it will be held accountable. And it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera, “he added, before warning that a full-scale attack would signal “catastrophe” for Moscow.
Biden’s remarks drew criticism from the Kremlin and also angered Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who issued a blunt response to Kiev’s most powerful ally.
“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones,” Zelenskyy tweeted on Thursday, a day after he met Blinken in the Ukrainian capital.
Despite the threats from the West, Moscow, Europe’s main energy supplier, has long-calculated that the West would stop short of steps serious enough to interfere with gas exports.
But US and European officials say there are still strong financial measures that have not been tried. Germany signalled on Tuesday that it could halt Nord Stream 2, a new gas pipeline from Russia that skirts Ukraine, if Moscow invades again.
Russia denies planning a large scale attack, and insists it has the right to deploy troops on its soil because it deems it appropriate, and instead seeks to improve security in the region.
However, Moscow has also warned that it could launch indefinite military action unless its security demands are met.
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