Blinken warns Russia against invasion of Ukraine

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“It’s very hard to make actual progress” with Russia “in an atmosphere of escalation and threat with a gun pointed to Ukraine’s head,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said ahead of the talks with his Russian counterpart and warned Russia against invasion of Ukraine . Jan 9, 2022
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. and Russia open high-stake talks on the fate of Ukraine on Monday, but prospects for a resolution — or any agreement — are dim, diplomats say.

Moscow and Washington are worlds apart on whether Ukraine should be embraced by the West or cast its lot with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has had to struggle to build unity among America’s allies on how to defend Kiev from an increasingly aggressive Russia.

“It’s very hard to make actual progress” with Russia “in an atmosphere of escalation and threat with a gun pointed to Ukraine’s head,” Blinken said ahead of the talks.

“It’s very hard to make actual progress” with Russia “in an atmosphere of escalation and threat with a gun pointed to Ukraine’s head,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said said ahead of the talks and warned Russia against invasion of Ukraine

Russia, which invaded , occupied and annexed a part of Ukraine several years ago, has amassed some 100,000 troops along the border in recent weeks and spewed a campaign of invective, accusing Ukraine and the NATO alliance of posing a looming threat.

After a couple of telephone conversations between Presidents Biden and Putin, and dozens of other lower-level consults, the two governments agreed to a meeting Monday in Geneva of the Strategic Stability Dialogue, a U.S.-Russia working group established last year to focus on arms control, followed by meetings the rest of the week involving NATO and other larger multilateral organizations. The U.S. delegation is being led by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

Biden, Blinken and NATO officials have issued dire warnings to Russia if it were to follow through with another invasion of Ukraine. Most punishment would involve additional economic sanctions on Moscow, Putin and Russian oligarchs, the Western officials say. Numerous sanctions already in place, however, have failed to alter Putin’s behavior.

Most officials are ruling out military action beyond continuing to arm Ukraine forces and, possibly, repositioning additional NATO troops on the eastern flank of NATO territory that includes countries such as Poland.

Biden, Blinken and NATO officials have issued dire warnings to Russia if it were to follow through with another invasion of Ukraine. Most punishment would involve additional economic sanctions on Moscow, Putin and Russian oligarchs, the Western officials say. Numerous sanctions already in place, however, have failed to alter Putin’s behavior.

“A diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable,” Blinken said. “If Russia chooses it.”

LA TIMES

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