US and Russia dig in over Ukraine crisis as Blinken visits Kyiv

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Impasse leaves little hope that Antony Blinken and Sergey Lavrov’s meeting on Friday will ease soaring tensions.

The United States and Russia have dug in their heels over Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border with no sign either will relent from entrenched positions that have raised fears of a Russian invasion and a new war in Europe.

In advance of critical talks Friday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the two sides appeared no closer to any compromise that might ease tensions and avert the threat of a Russian invasion.

Ukraine, meanwhile, said it was prepared for the worst and would survive whatever difficulties come its way.

On a visit to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv on Wednesday, Blinken accused Russia of planning to reinforce the more than 100,000 troops it has deployed along the Ukrainian border and suggested that number could double “on relatively short order”.

Blinken did not elaborate, but Russia has sent an unspecified number of troops from the country’s far east to its ally Belarus, which also shares a border with Ukraine, for major war games next month.

ence at the White House later on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden predicted Russia would make a move on Ukraine, saying it would pay dearly for a full-scale invasion – but suggesting there could be a lower cost for a “minor incursion.”

“My guess is he will move in,” Biden said of Putin at a news conference. “He has to do something.”

“Russia will be held accountable if it invades – and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and what to not do, etcetera,” Biden said. “But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing … it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine.”

Biden’s comments injected uncertainty into how the West would respond in the face of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, prompting the White House later to seek to clarify what the president meant.”

If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our allies,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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