A Ukrainian soldier is seen at one of the fighting positions on the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Donetsk, Ukraine, April 12, 2021. (PHOTO / AP)
Russia brushed aside US warnings over aggression toward Ukraine as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Brussels to discuss the escalating tensions with his European partners.
The region is on edge over a Russian military buildup in recent weeks around the conflict that began after President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in 2014. The war over the status of two breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east has already cost more than 13,000 lives.
The Kremlin, which accuses its neighbor of planning a new military offensive to take back the Russian-speaking Donbas region, on Tuesday called the US’ deployment of warships to the nearby Black Sea in solidarity with Ukraine “extremely provocative”. Blinken warned at the weekend of consequences if Russia acts recklessly or aggressively.
“Any threat only reinforces our conviction that we’re conducting the right policy,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters. “We’re just defending our interests and the interests of our citizens, the Russian-speaking population. We’ll continue to defend them.”
The Foreign Ministry in Kyiv told Russia to cease what it called “military rhetoric and disinformation.” The Kremlin reiterated that its military movements are a response to the threat of a renewed offensive by Ukraine’s army - a claim Ukraine denies
On Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv told Russia to cease what it called “military rhetoric and disinformation.” The Kremlin reiterated that its military movements are a response to the threat of a renewed offensive by Ukraine’s army - a claim Ukraine denies.
With Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, talking last week about the risk of “full-scale military action” resuming, Ukraine’s allies have been trying to head off potential missteps. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited his opposite number in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who’s also a Putin ally - at the weekend.
Ukraine wants the West to restrain Russia by hitting it with new sanctions.
US President Joe Biden has made clear that “if Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences,” Blinken told NBC News on Sunday, without elaborating.
Blinken, who said he’s in contact with European allies about Russia’s troop deployments, flew to NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss the issue, among other topics.
Separately, the alliance’s permanent representatives will hold a meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister on Tuesday, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Philip Reeker told reporters ahead of Blinken’s trip.
“We really continue to be concerned by the actions Russia has taken to escalate tensions with Ukraine,” Reeker said. He accused Russia of a disinformation campaign “blatantly designed to falsely blame Ukraine for what are the Kremlin’s own actions.”
US President Joe Biden has made clear that “if Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned
Ukraine accuses Russia of stoking tensions to win leverage in talks over the future of the two restive regions, with the Kremlin long seeking a special status that would allow it to hamstring efforts by the government in Kyiv to push for membership of the European Union and NATO.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Monday in a statement that any resolution should adhere to peace accords signed in 2015 in Minsk. Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman, Yulia Mendel, called talks the only way to resolve the tensions.
“That’s why we push for talks in the Normandy format,” she said, referring to negotiations between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.
Ukraine said it’s also asked for one-on-one negotiations with Putin, though Peskov said such a request hadn’t been received.
Despite Russia fomenting and providing military and financial support to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Peskov once again called it “an internal problem” on Monday. “Do we need to take measures to ensure our security? Yes we do,” he said in an interview broadcast on state television.
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