US secretary of state says Russia may stage an ‘incident’ ahead of further invasion of Ukraine

7 January 2022, 11:13 PM

Russia may stage an incident of some sort in order to fabricate a claim of war against Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a briefing on Jan. 7.

“It would hardly be surprising if Russia tries to stage some kind of an incident or provocation to justify invading Ukraine, hoping to confuse the rest of the world for just long enough to pull it off,” Blinken said.

He said it was “absurd” to suggest that Ukraine could be the aggressor in the current crisis of military escalation by Russia.

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“Russia invaded Ukraine almost eight years ago; Russia occupies the Crimean Peninsula and incites conflict in eastern Ukraine, refusing to implement the provisions of the Minsk Protocol…” Blinken said.

“Russia continuously threatens democratic Ukraine and sends more and more troops to Ukraine’s border with Russia. All that encroaches on Ukraine’s sovereignty and jeopardizes European security.”

Blinken believes that Moscow is seeking “…to shift the conversation to the topic of NATO, and away from its aggression against Ukraine” with the recently-issued “security guarantees” that Russia has demanded of the United States and NATO.

“We’re not about to get distracted from the real issue here, since everything that’s going on around Ukraine is not just about Ukraine,” said Blinken.

“It’s all part of the much wider pattern of efforts to destabilize (Europe) via a range of reckless and illegal actions on Russia’s part, seeking to establish a sphere of influence over the countries that were dominated by the (Soviet Union), denying their democratic tendencies and sovereignty aspirations.”

However, Blinken said he still thinks a diplomatic resolution to the current Russia-Ukraine crisis is “possible and preferable, should Russia choose it.” Attempts to de-escalate the current tensions are likely to take place during a serious of diplomatic meetings scheduled with the United States, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe this week.

Following a meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had a phone call with Blinken, during which the U.S. official reaffirmed “NATO’s solidarity with Ukraine,” Kuleba said on Twitter on Jan. 7.

“We went over the details of (the United States’ and Ukraine’s) mutual position ahead of the series of talks with Russia,” said the minister.

On Jan. 7 via Twitter, Blinken reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine: “We are working hand-in-hand with Ukraine, NATO allies, and partners to deter further Russian aggression,” he wrote.

On Dec. 17, Russia issued demands for what it called “security guarantees” to the United States and NATO, including that Ukraine be forbidden from ever becoming a member of the alliance – all against the backdrop of a continuous build-up of Moscow’s troops along Russia’s border with Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “any kind of talks with Moscow must be underpinned by the key principles of European security, clearly express our concern with Russia’s behavior, and … be done in concord with our European partners, namely Ukraine.”

White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States will not make any concessions or even discuss them without their European allies. The Russian Foreign Ministry has made statements expressing a similar unwillingness to compromise on their stated demands.

Bilateral talks between the United States and Russia to discuss these so-called “security guarantees” are scheduled to take place in Geneva on Jan. 10, followed by a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on Jan. 12.

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