Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stressed that the US and its partners are united in the face of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that there would be a “swift, severe” response from the United States and its allies if Russia sends military forces into Ukraine.
Blinken’s comments in Berlin on Thursday appeared to be another effort to clear up any confusion about the position of the US and its NATO allies on Moscow's actions near border with Ukraine
“If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border and commit new acts of aggression against Ukraine, that will be met with a swift, severe, united response from the United States and our allies and partners," Blinken told reporters.
His comments came after US President Joe Biden was heavily criticised for saying a “minor incursion” by Russia would elicit a lesser response.
Top US and European diplomats are seeking to project a united front to Russia over concerns that it may be planning an invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine, and Biden said on Wednesday he thinks Moscow will invade.
He warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country would pay a “dear price” in lives lost and a possible cutoff from the global banking system if it does.
Against that backdrop, Blinken held talks on Thursday with diplomats from Germany, France and Britain — a so-called Quad meeting. A day earlier, he met Ukraine’s president in Kiev to discuss the threat.
Russia has denied it is planning an invasion and, in turn, accused the West on Thursday of plotting “provocations” in Ukraine, citing the delivery of weapons to the country by British military transport planes in recent days.
US, NATO unity
The challenges of keeping the United States and its NATO allies united in their response to Russia were on display Wednesday, when Biden warned Russia against any invasion but also said a “minor incursion” would elicit a lesser response.
He later sought to clarify that he was referring to a nonmilitary action, such as a cyberattack — but the remark elicited a barrage of criticism at home that he was not being tough enough on Russia and raised the spectre of possible divisions abroad.
Blinken was at pains on Thursday to stress that the US and its partners were united in the face of Moscow’s actions, noting that American diplomats have held more than 100 meetings with allies in recent weeks “to ensure that we are speaking and acting together with one voice when it comes to Russia.”
“That unity gives us strength, a strength I might add that Russia does not and cannot match,” he said.
“It’s why we build voluntary alliances and partnerships in the first place. It’s also why Russia recklessly seeks to divide us.”
Blinken was to speak on the Ukraine crisis later on Thursday in the German capital before flying to Geneva, where he will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday.