US Secretary of State warns Russia’s Lavrov of Western sanctions
Washington is open to more talks, but there will be a severe Western response to further Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when they met on Jan. 21 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“I welcome (this) opportunity to discuss (our) concerns, as a part of our efforts to de-escalate and avert a further Russian invasion of Ukraine,” said Blinken.
“We are committed to diplomacy and dialogue (between us), but we are also committed to a united, swift and severe response, should Russia follow through (with its invasion of Ukraine).”
Blinken added that while he “does not expect to resolve our differences here today,” he hoped that diplomacy remains a viable solution to the ongoing crisis, sparked by the build-up of at least 100,000 Russian soldiers on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg invited Russia to another series of negotiations on European security and arms control.
A series of negotiations between Russia and the United States and NATO were held in the past weeks to defuse the tensions caused by the Russian military buildup, but the United States and NATO rebuffed Russian demands to restrict NATO enlargement, roll back post-1997 NATO infrastructure, and that it be given written guarantees that NATO would never expand into Ukraine and Georgia.
Echoing that sentiment, Lavrov said he did not expect a “breakthrough” during the talks, and demanded a response to Moscow’s “security guarantees” proposals.
The Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border was first widely reported in early December 2021, with several media outlets speculating that Russia might invade Ukraine with a force of 175,000 troops in early 2022.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that a renewed Russian offensive in Ukraine may occur in late January 2022.
The Kremlin denies gearing up for invasion, and has instead accused Ukraine of planning false flag operations, as well as of drawing up plans to use force to restore Kyiv’s control over the territories lost since 2014.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military intelligence has revealed that Russian proxy forces have restarted a chemical plant in occupied territory, formerly infamous for causing semi-regular environmental catastrophes, and have imported leaky barrels of ammonia for as-yet-unknown purposes.
On Jan. 14, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that the United States has evidence of Russia planning to conduct various false flag operations in Donbas.
Corroborated by the Pentagon, Psaki said that Moscow sent operatives, trained in explosives and urban combat, into eastern Ukraine, to be used to stage false flag operations that could give Putin a pretext to once again invade Ukraine.
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