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Blinken arrives in Ukraine, says Russia may assault at quick discover By Reuters

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© Reuters. Secretary of State of U.S. Antony Blinken speaks as he greets embassy employees on the U.S. embassy, in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 19, 2022. Alex Brandon/Pool by way of REUTERS

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By Simon Lewis

KYIV (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday in a whistle-stop diplomatic push to defuse tensions with Moscow over Ukraine, warning that Russia may launch a brand new assault at “very quick discover”.

Blinken will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after which journey to Berlin for talks with allies earlier than going to Geneva to fulfill Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov after negotiations final week produced no breakthrough.

Russia has massed tens of 1000’s of troops close to Ukraine’s borders in what Kyiv and its allies worry could possibly be preparation for a brand new army offensive towards Ukraine.

Including to the jitters, Russia moved extra troops into Belarus this week forward of what Minsk mentioned had been deliberate joint workout routines subsequent month. Moscow denies plans to launch an assault however has pressed Washington for safety ensures, together with a block on Ukraine becoming a member of the NATO alliance.

Talking to diplomats on the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Blinken mentioned he strongly hopes that Russia can persist with a diplomatic and peaceable path when he meets Lavrov, and warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin may give the order to assault at quick discover.

“As you all know very, very properly, we’ve been engaged prior to now couple of months in an intense deal with Ukraine due to the numerous buildup we have seen of Russian forces we’ve seen close to the Ukrainian border,” Blinken mentioned.

The Russian buildup, he mentioned, was happening with “no provocation, no motive.”

“We all know that there are plans in place to extend that drive much more on very quick discover, and that provides President Putin the capability, additionally on very quick discover, to take additional aggressive motion towards Ukraine,” Blinken mentioned.

Russia’s actions had attracted the eye of Washington, and in addition of its allies in Europe and past, he mentioned.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration final month authorized the availability of an extra $200 million https://www.reuters.com/world/us-approved-200-mln-defense-aid-ukraine-december-state-department-official-2022-01-19 in defensive safety help to Ukraine and gave extra such support final yr than at any level since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

U.S. SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE

State Division spokesman Ned Worth mentioned Blinken’s go to was “to reiterate our help for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Washington has warned Russia of extreme penalties if it mounts a brand new offensive, whereas promising to beef up its safety presence in Europe.

“Ought to Russia additional invade Ukraine, we are going to present extra defensive materials to the Ukrainians above and past that which we’re already within the technique of offering,” a State Division official mentioned forward of Blinken’s arrival.

Blinken will meet Zelenskiy and International Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday.

Then in Berlin he’ll meet German International Minister Annalena Baerbock and later the Transatlantic Quad, referring to a format that entails the US, Britain, France and Germany.

Germany signalled on Tuesday that it may halt the Nord Stream 2 https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-signals-it-could-halt-gas-pipeline-if-russia-invades-ukraine-2022-01-18 pipeline from Russia if Moscow invades Ukraine.

Blinken spoke with Lavrov on Tuesday and the 2 determined within the name that it might be helpful to fulfill in particular person.

Lavrov individually mentioned Moscow would welcome U.S. diplomatic efforts and reiterated Russian accusations that Ukraine was “sabotaging” agreements aimed toward ending the battle between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces in jap Ukraine.

Regardless of diplomatic engagements this month, Washington has but to see Russia de-escalate tensions and Moscow may launch an assault on Ukraine at any time in January or February, a senior U.S. official mentioned earlier.

“We are actually at a stage the place Russia may at any level launch an assault on Ukraine,” the official mentioned

Kyiv has sought weapons from Western nations to shore up its defence. On Monday, Britain mentioned it had begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to assist it defend itself.

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