US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN Security Council that If Russia seeks peace it should plainly state to the world that it will not invade Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has challenged Russia to make an unequivocal statement that it will not invade Ukraine and to back it up by pulling back troops.
At a UN Security Council meeting on the Ukraine crisis, the top US diplomat on Thursday laid out in detail how Russia could fabricate an excuse for invading its neighbor.
If it seeks peace, "the Russian government can announce today with no qualification of equivocation or deflection, that Russia will not invade Ukraine, stated plainly to the world," Blinken said.
"And then demonstrate it by sending your troops, your tanks, your planes, back to their barracks," Blinken added.
At the meeting, called to discuss the showdown over Ukraine, Blinken said he had invited Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to meet in Europe for talks next week, even as US officials say a Russian invasion could take place within days.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken:— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) February 17, 2022
- We do not see Russia drawing down forces
- Forces preparing to launch attack against Ukraine in coming days
- Russia plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack
- Russian pretext could include fake or real attack using chemical weapons pic.twitter.com/mGrPxpeKL0
A pretext to invade?
Citing US intelligence, Blinken laid out a scenario in which he said Moscow could "manufacture" a pretext to invade, would then bomb Ukraine, launch cyberattacks to shut down its institutions, and send tanks and soldiers in to occupy the country. He warned that Russian forces are preparing to launch an attack against Ukraine in "coming days".
"Conventional attacks are not all that Russia plans to inflict upon the people of Ukraine. We have information that indicates Russia will target specific groups of Ukrainians," Blinken said, without providing details.
At the same meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin blamed the current situation on Kiev's alleged violations of the 2015 Minsk cease-fire agreement aimed at bringing peace to the breakaway Donbass region.
He also called claims that Russia planned to invade Ukraine "baseless."
"Attempts to place the blame on Russia are futile and baseless" and aim at "shifting of the blame away from Ukraine," he said.
He said that Blinken's talk of an invasion scenario was "dangerous" and claimed that some Russian troops were already pulling back from the border after "exercises."
"We are ready ... for very serious dialogue, not imitation dialogue," he said.
The statements came amid a surge of shelling incidents in the Donbass region that violated the Minsk ceasefire, that each side blamed on the other.
Washington says that Russia has now placed 150,000 troops and heavy armaments on the Russian and Belarus borders with Ukraine. Earlier on Thursday President Joe Biden said an invasion could come in "the next several days."