The statement from US Secretary of State Blinken came as Russian military exercises in Belarus are continuing, further ramping up the pressure on an already tense situation.

The decision to extend the drills was made because of military activity near the borders of Russia and Belarus, the Belarusian defence ministry said.
The decision to extend the drills was made because of military activity near the borders of Russia and Belarus, the Belarusian defence ministry said. (AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said all signs suggest Russia is on the brink of invading Ukraine, but still vowed that Washington will use every opportunity until the last minute to see if diplomacy dissuades Moscow from going ahead.

The developments, including the announcement of an extension of military exercises by Russia and Belarus, signal an invasion, Blinken told on Sunday while speaking on broadcaster CNN'S State of the Union show.

"Everything we are seeing suggests that this is dead serious, that we are on the brink of an invasion. We will do everything we can to try to prevent it before it happens," Blinken said.

The secretary of state also said that the West was equally prepared if Moscow invades.

"But until the tanks are actually rolling, and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President (Vladimir) Putin from carrying this forward," Blinken said.

Blinken maintained Washington's position that the deterrent impact of sanctions would be lost if they are triggered before an invasion despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's plea to unleash them.

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Russia and Belarus extend drills

Western leaders have been warning of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, estimating that more than 150,000 Russian troops have encircled the country..

Earlier, the Belarus defence minister said his country and Russia were extending military drills that were due to end on Sunday.

The decision to extend the drills was made because of military activity near the borders of Russia and Belarus and an escalation of the situation in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, the Belarusian defence ministry said.

In Ukraine, more bombardments were heard by reporters overnight close to the frontline between government forces and the Moscow-backed rebels who hold parts of the districts of Lugansk and Donetsk.

"It tells us that the playbook that ... I laid out at the UN Security Council last week, about Russia trying to create a series of provocations as justifications for aggression against Ukraine, is going forward," Blinken said.

Blinken added that his planned meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was still set to proceed next week as long as Moscow did not go ahead with the invasion.

President Joe Biden was also prepared to engage with Putin "at any time, in any format if that can help prevent a war," Blinken said.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies