Blinken says US fears Russia ‘trying to rehash’ Ukraine’s 2014 invasion | Top stories

Blinken says US fears Russia ‘trying to rehash’ Ukraine’s 2014 invasion

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“We are concerned about reports of unusual Russian military activity,” Blinken said during an appearance with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the State Department, adding that the United States “is monitoring very near “Russian activity.

“Our concern is that Russia may make a serious mistake in trying to rehash what it undertook in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so in falsely claiming that it was provoked, “Blinken said, referring to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. “So the playbook that we’ve seen in the past was to claim some provocation as a justification for doing what he, what he intended and intended to do. That’s why we’re looking at this very carefully. “

He also reiterated the United States’ commitment to the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, calling it “foolproof”.

Kuleba said the United States and Ukraine shared “elements” on Wednesday regarding Russian military activities and expressed gratitude for the U.S. decision to deepen defense and security cooperation “to help Ukraine to strengthen its ability to defend itself and also to dissuade Russia from demotivating them. from taking further aggressive measures. “

Blinken and Kuleba addressed reporters following a strategic dialogue that led to the signing of a renewed strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States.

“The best way to deter aggressive Russia is to make the Kremlin understand that Ukraine is strong,” Kuleba said. “I have repeated many times that the Russian aggression against Ukraine will end when Ukraine, placed within the framework of the West, is institutionalized and unquestionable. Today we have taken another important step in that direction.”

Blinken said the United States would continue to “consult closely with its allies and partners as well” on the formation of Russian troops.

“As we state, any escalation or aggression will be of great concern to the United States.” He added that the United States would continue to support de-escalation in the region and a diplomatic resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s motivation

CNN reported on Friday that President Joe Biden sent CIA Director Bill Burns to Moscow last week to warn the Kremlin that the United States was closely monitoring the build-up of its troops and the irregular movement of equipment near the northern border of Ukraine, according to several American and Ukrainian sources.

Burns was also supposed to try to determine what motivated Russia’s actions in his meetings with senior Kremlin security officials directly involved in military activity.

Kuleba referred to information the United States shared with him during his visit and said that “what we heard and saw today in Washington, DC, corresponds to our own findings and analysis, adds new. elements, which allow us to obtain a better and more complete photo. “

Vigilant and resilient

Highlighting various Russian efforts to destabilize Europe – including its use of energy supplies, “propaganda efforts, disinformation, cyber attacks, military reinforcements, Russia’s attempt to digest Belarus” – the Ukrainian diplomat said warned that “in this complicated game we have to be vigilant, we have to be resilient.”

The joint press appearance is just the latest effort by the Biden administration to demonstrate support for Ukraine, some of which has taken place behind closed doors.

After his meetings in Russia, Burns spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an attempt to dispel tensions, the sources told CNN. A senior State Department official was also dispatched to Kiev on Thursday to support the efforts.

The wave of high-level diplomacy underscores how seriously the Biden administration takes the latest Russian troop movements, even after an earlier build-up this spring ultimately failed to lead to a new invasion. Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have also been exacerbated in recent weeks by the deepening Ukrainian energy crisis that Kiev believes Moscow has deliberately provoked.

“The build-up, coupled with energy blackmail, suggests a more aggressive Russian posture,” a Zelensky adviser told CNN.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Friday that the “scale” and “the size of the units we see” coming from Russia are “unusual”.

“We continue to monitor this closely, and as I said before, any escalation or aggressive action by Russia would be of great concern to the United States,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional reports.

CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Michael Conte and Christian Sierra contributed to this report

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