Concerns over possible Russian invasion of Ukraine still high after last week’s talks: White House


White House spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that the Biden administration continues to see tensions between Russia and Ukraine as a “very dangerous situation.”

This was aimed at exacerbating the situation and finding a diplomatic path last week after three high-level talks involving the United States, Russia and several European countries.

Russia has gathered about 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine and in the Crimean annexation of Russia in recent weeks. Most recently, Russia has announced a joint military exercise with neighboring Belarus, which borders Ukraine.

“We are now ready for Russia to launch an attack on Ukraine,” Saki said on January 18.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergeń≠ Viklov on Tuesday and the two agreed to meet later this week in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the State Department, Blinken will travel to Kiev on Wednesday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, then move to Berlin to meet with Viklov on Friday. Officials say the trip is a sign of US support for Ukraine and is intended to remind Russia to escalate and pursue diplomacy.

This follows the US bipartisan parliamentary delegation who visited Kiev on Monday to meet with Zelensky and reaffirmed US support for Ukraine.

President Joe Biden has spoken directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent weeks. Biden said in a phone call that if Russia invaded further, the United States and its allies would impose severe sanctions on Russia.

Russia Ukraine
On January 18, 2022, a convoy of Russian armored vehicles will move along the highways of the Crimean Peninsula. (AP photo)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited Washington on January 5 to present a unified front with Blinken, and Russia’s military buildup near the Ukrainian border brings “urgent and urgent challenges” to European security. Said that any intervention would have serious consequences.

Germany has suspended the certification process for the yet-approved Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which, if approved by regulatory agencies, carries 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to Germany each year.

Blinken said that if Russia invades Ukraine, it is unlikely that gas will flow through Nord Stream.

US officials have also accused Russia of enacting a “false flag operation” and a social media campaign to use as an excuse for Ukraine’s invasion. Russia denied this.

Ukrainian officials said on Sunday that Russia was behind a cyberattack that tampered with the Ukrainian government’s website.

Moscow last month submitted a draft security document requiring NATO to refuse to join Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.

On Monday, Russia’s best diplomat, Viklov, rejected US claims that his country was preparing an excuse to invade Ukraine. He told reporters that he dismissed the US claim as “complete disinformation.”

Viklov reaffirmed Russia this week expecting a written response to Moscow’s binding demands from the United States and its allies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Ciolino

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Nick Ciolino covers the White House.