US: Russian military build-up near Ukraine ‘immediate challenge to stability in Europe’

The United States and Germany said Wednesday that Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine’s border poses an “immediate and urgent challenge” to European security and that any intervention will draw severe consequences.

At a joint press briefing with his German counterpart, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken called the Russian actions “an immediate and urgent challenge to peace and stability in Europe”.

Blinken was joined by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the briefing.

In recent days, Blinken has posted on social about “good calls” and “productive conversations” with foreign ministers about the Ukraine situation.

Blinken and Baerbock presented a unified front on Russia after a meeting in Washington.

The severity of any response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine hinges largely on Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and a diplomatic heavyweight within the 27-nation European Union.

The Blinken-Baerbock meeting followed a telephone call last week between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a conversation Sunday between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and a group discussion Tuesday among Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his counterparts from the five Nordic nations.

It also preceded a flurry of meetings involving NATO foreign ministers, senior US and Russian officials, the NATO-Russia Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe set for next week.

Using virtually identical language, the US and its European allies have several times in the past month issued joint and individual messages advising Putin that his country will face “massive consequences” and “severe costs” if he goes ahead with further military intervention in Ukraine. – AP

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