The US and its allies will deliver a “swift, severe and united response” if Russia invades Ukraine, the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, warned on Sunday amid rising tensions.
The top US diplomat’s comments came as Russia continued its military build-up on the Ukraine border and Britain said it had exposed evidence of a plot by Vladimir Putin to install a pro-Moscow government in Kyiv.
The Russian president, Blinken said, must choose between the “preferred path of diplomacy and dialogue” or “Russian aggression and massive consequences”. The US, Nato, and Europe stood ready to deal with any eventuality, he said.
“We’ve been very clear that if there is any further Russian aggression in terms of sending Russian forces into Ukraine, there will be a swift, severe and united response from the United States and Europe,” Blinken told CBS’s Face the Nation, echoing the message he said he delivered to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in “frank and substantive” talks in Geneva last week.
“We’ve been equally clear that Russia engages in other tactics short of sending forces into Ukraine, or other countries, hybrid actions, cyber attacks, efforts to bring the government down. There, too, I’m confident based on the many consultations I’ve had with European allies and partners that there will be a swift, calibrated and also united response.”
Blinken would not say if that response included committing US forces, but told CNN’s State of the Union the alliance was looking at “very practical and important measures”, including military options.
“One thing we’ve been clear about, besides the massive economic, financial consequences that would befall Russia if it makes further aggression against Ukraine, is the ongoing, continued build-up of defense capacity in Ukraine and, equally, continuing to build up Nato’s defensive capabilities, including on the so-called eastern flank, the countries near Russia.
“A single additional Russian force” going into Ukraine would trigger a response, Blinken said. “We’re looking at every single scenario, preparing for every single one.”
With an estimated 125,000 Russian troops at or close to the Ukraine border, western allies have scrambled to bolster military assets in the region. About 90 tons of US equipment arrived in Ukraine this weekend, part of a $200m package of “lethal aid” approved by Joe Biden last month. The UK has sent anti-tank weaponry and personnel to help train Ukraine forces. /Compiled from wires