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Russia. Activity in Ukraine and Belarus. Antony Blinken and Dmytro Kułeba comment

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We are concerned that Russia may make a serious mistake by trying to repeat what it did in 2014 by invading Ukraine, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the Department of Defense “does not see any connections between the situation on the EU-Belarus border and the disturbing movements of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.” However, he added that “it is not clear exactly what the Russian intentions are.”

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“We don’t see any specific link between these different operations, but what we are seeing is extraordinary military action inside Russia near Ukraine’s borders, and we are still concerned about it,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference.

The spokesman said that “it is not clear exactly what Russia’s intentions are.”

– Of course, we would like to understand it better, because we do not want to see additional actions destabilizing this already very tense region of the world – he added.

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Kirby said the concentration of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine was unusual “in terms of both size and scope.” He called on Russia to clearly state its intentions.

As reported last week by Politico, the movements of Russian troops near Ukraine are “very disturbing” to Washington, and the level of alarm in Moscow’s actions has been at its highest in years. According to unconfirmed reports, Pentagon officials are concerned that Russia is planning a new military offensive against Ukraine around winter.

On Wednesday, two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 strategic bombers patroled Belarus’s airspace. The Kremlin said that the machines took part in the air defense control of the union state of Belarus and Russia. The Belarusian authorities have announced that similar flights will occur regularly.

Russian President Vladimir PutinShutterstock

Blinken: We are concerned that Russia will repeat the 2014 scenario

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, also spoke about Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe.

– We do not know Russia’s intentions behind the movements of its troops on the border with Ukraine, but we are concerned that Russia may make a serious mistake in trying to repeat what it did in 2014. It then gathered large forces along the border and entered the territory of Ukraine, falsely claiming to have been provoked, Blinken said. The head of US diplomacy stressed that the US commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is “iron”. He added that if there is now any provocation, it is Russia’s doing and praised the Ukrainian authorities for their restraint.

The head of Ukraine’s foreign ministry said that Washington’s information on the movements of Russian troops is consistent with Kiev’s assessment of the situation. He added that during the Wednesday meeting, discussions were held on specific actions that both countries will take in the event of a new Russian offensive.

– What is happening today is a very complicated game with many elements: an energy crisis, propaganda efforts, disinformation, cyber attacks, military concentration (…), elements of the migration crisis – said Kułeba. As he added, one of the goals of the meeting with Blinken is to discourage Russia from escalating the conflict.

When asked about the new US sanctions on Belarus announced earlier on Wednesday by the head of the European Commission in connection with the crisis on the EU border, Blinken said that the US is not in the habit of announcing future sanctions, but – as he put it – pressure from Washington will continue.

Blinken: We are closely monitoring whether Russia is using energy as a weapon

Both diplomats also referred to the energy crisis in Europe and the issue of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The US secretary of state said that Washington was “closely monitoring” whether Russia was not using energy as a weapon and added that obligations under the agreement with Germany were still current. “We are counting on Germany to honor its commitments,” said Blinken.

The agreement provides for the imposition of sanctions in the event that Russia uses energy as a weapon.

Kułeba assessed that Russia is already conducting energy blackmail against Ukraine and Europe. He added that he was counting on action by Germany, especially as Berlin had means of putting pressure on Moscow to use. – I would like to emphasize that Nord Stream 2 is not only a Ukrainian problem, but also a European problem – said the Ukrainian diplomat.

The Wednesday meeting of the heads of diplomacy of both countries inaugurated the reactivated Commission for Strategic Dialogue of the USA and Ukraine. Both leaders signed the new commission charter.

Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelinesPAP / Adam Ziemienowicz

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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