US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that Washington has seen “evidence” Russia could be planning an invasion of Ukraine, threatening Moscow with painful economic sanctions if it attacks.
Blinken accuses Moscow of massing “tens of thousands of additional combat forces” near Ukraine’s border as he gears up for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Stockholm over the crisis.
“We’re deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine, plans include efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within as well as large scale military operations,” Blinken says after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Latvia’s capital Riga.
“Now, we don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he’s putting in place the capacity to do so on short order, should he so decide,” he says.
Blinken insists that “diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve this potential crisis,” but warns that there will be “far-reaching and long-lasting consequences” for Moscow if it pushed ahead with any aggression.
“We made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high-impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from using in the past.”