© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in the course of the NATO International Ministers summit in Riga, Latvia December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
By Humeyra Pamuk and Johan Ahlander
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Moscow of the “extreme prices” Russia would pay if it invaded Ukraine, urging his Russian counterpart on Thursday to hunt a diplomatic exit from the disaster.
Blinken delivered the warning to Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov at what he referred to as a “candid” assembly in Stockholm and mentioned it was probably that Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin would converse quickly.
“I made very clear our deep considerations and our resolve to carry Russia liable for its actions, together with our dedication to work with European allies to impose extreme prices and penalties on Russia if it takes additional aggressive motion towards Ukraine,” Blinken instructed a information convention after the assembly.
“It is now on Russia to de-escalate the present tensions by reversing the latest troop buildup, returning forces to regular peacetime positions and refraining from additional intimidation and makes an attempt to destabilise Ukraine.”
Lavrov, chatting with reporters earlier than his talks with Blinken, mentioned Moscow was prepared for dialogue with Kyiv. “We, as President Putin has acknowledged, don’t need any conflicts,” he mentioned.
Ukraine says Russia has amassed greater than 90,000 troops close to their lengthy shared border, whereas Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its personal army build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory options it’s getting ready for an assault on its southern neighbour and has defended its proper to deploy troops by itself territory because it sees match.
Russia and Ukraine have centuries of shared historical past and shaped the 2 greatest republics of the Soviet Union till its 1991 collapse, so Moscow views its neighbour’s ambition to hitch NATO as an affront and a menace.
For the reason that newest disaster began, Moscow has set out calls for for legally binding safety ensures from the West that NATO is not going to admit Ukraine as a member or deploy missile techniques there to focus on Russia.
“We’re going to verify we’re heard however the principle factor is our safety,” Lavrov instructed a information convention later.
“So if NATO nonetheless refuses to debate this theme or the ensures or concepts put ahead by the president of Russia Vladimir Putin, in fact we’ll take measures to make sure that our safety, our sovereignty and our territorial integrity doesn’t rely upon anybody else.”
He struck a extra conciliatory be aware, nonetheless, by proposing that Russia and america convey an finish to an extended dispute over the dimensions of their embassies and begin afresh on the problem.
The Kremlin has been speaking up the potential of a second summit between Putin and Biden for weeks. Their final one occurred in Geneva in June, lower than two months after Russia scaled again a earlier build-up of greater than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.
Blinken mentioned: “I believe it’s probably the presidents will converse straight within the close to future”.
The American declined to spell out what financial sanctions Russia would possibly face if it invaded its neighbour, saying solely that “Moscow is aware of very properly the universe of what is doable”.
Russia has withstood a number of rounds of worldwide sanctions because it seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. However Western governments have a possible new lever now, as Moscow is awaiting German regulatory approval to begin pumping gasoline by way of a newly constructed $11 billion pipeline underneath the Baltic Sea.
Blinken mentioned Moscow and Kyiv ought to every fulfil their obligations underneath the Minsk peace course of, which was designed to finish a warfare between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian authorities forces within the east of the previous Soviet republic.
Washington was keen to facilitate this, Blinken mentioned, however “if Russia decides to pursue confrontation, there can be severe penalties”.
The Kremlin mentioned on Thursday – earlier than the Lavrov-Blinken assembly – that the likelihood of a brand new battle in jap Ukraine remained excessive and that Moscow was involved by “aggressive” rhetoric from Kyiv and a rise in what it referred to as provocative actions alongside the road of contact between authorities forces and the pro-Russian separatists.
Kyiv has denied any intention of attempting to take again the insurgent areas by pressure, accusing Russia of spouting “propaganda nonsense” with a view to present cowl for its personal aggressive intentions.
Russia mentioned individually it had arrested three suspected Ukrainian intelligence brokers, together with one accused of planning to hold out an assault utilizing two do-it-yourself bombs, allegations that Kyiv dismissed as trumped up.
Final week Ukraine’s president mentioned Kyiv had thwarted a Russian-backed coup plot, which the Kremlin denied.
East-West relations have sunk to their lowest stage because the finish of the Chilly Warfare and the demise of the USSR. The purpose was by accident underlined by U.S. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin when he mentioned throughout a go to to South Korea: “The perfect case… is that we can’t see an incursion by the Soviet Union into the Ukraine.”