On Wednesday, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Ukraine amid growing concerns that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.
Mr. Blinken was scheduled to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv before traveling to Berlin to meet with European allies and his Russian counterpart in Geneva on Friday.
Russia has repeatedly denied any intention of invading neighboring Ukraine.
Senior US officials, however, say Moscow could launch an attack “at any time.”
An estimated 100,000 Russian troops have been deployed near Ukraine’s borders, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who told reporters on Tuesday that the buildup has created an “extremely dangerous situation.”
According to senior State Department officials, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov may be offered a “diplomatic off-ramp” in Geneva. Ms. Psaki stated that no option is off the table and that Mr. Blinken will “highlight very clearly that there is a diplomatic path forward.”
Russia has made a number of demands to Western governments, including that Ukraine never joins Nato and that the defensive alliance’s military activities in member states such as Poland be limited. Last week’s talks between the West and Russia fell short of a breakthrough, with some of Moscow’s demands rejected as non-starters.
Despite Russia’s claims that it has no plans for an invasion, tensions remain high near Ukraine’s borders, with Russian troops stationed in neighboring Belarus for joint military exercises.
Also read: 145 Community Leaders Killed In Colombia
The Belarusian defense ministry released images of Russian troops and tanks arriving for drills. Mr. Lavrov also dismissed as “total disinformation” US claims that Russia was preparing a pretext for a military operation in Ukraine.
Mr. Blinken’s visit to Kyiv on Wednesday was described as an attempt to “reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” ahead of talks with German, French, and British counterparts in Berlin on Thursday.
During a visit to Moscow on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that any further military escalation “would carry a high price for the Russian regime – economic, political, and strategic.”
Ukraine’s ambassador, Vadym Prystaiko, claims that the country is “facing the largest army in Europe by itself.”Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has urged Western governments to impose sanctions on Moscow immediately.
He warned that a Russian invasion would result in bloodshed and a refugee crisis for Europe.
Ben Wallace, the UK’s Defence Secretary, accused Russia of using Nato as a “strawman” to justify an invasion of Ukraine in an essay published on Monday, accusing President Vladimir Putin of being motivated by “ethnonationalism.”