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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Confrontation and massive consequences amongst warnings from US ahead of talks with Russia over Ukraine

United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has warned Russia that “confrontation and massive consequences” await if it continues with its aggression on Ukraine, amassing tens of thousands of soldiers at the Ukrainian border which has prompted concerns that a full invasion of Ukraine could take place.

The warning was issued ahead of talks in Geneva between the US and Russia where Blinken will be suggesting the path of dialogue and diplomacy as a means of avoiding confrontation with Russia. However, this option will be short-lived if Russia continues with its aggression on Ukraine to which Blinken then threatened the path of confrontation and massive consequences will then be taken.

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Tensions have been soaring recently as the situation in Ukraine has resulted in growing concerns of an invasion while Russia demands that NATO stop its eastward expansion and not grant Ukraine membership. Describing Russia as having “a gun to Ukraine’s head”, Mr. Blinken said any positive outcomes from talks will depend on Russia’s willingness to stand down from its aggressive stance on Ukraine.

Additionally, he stated that progress would be made in a scenario where Russia commits to de-escalation and pulls back from the threat that it currently poses to Ukraine. US President Joe Biden has also wanted that sanctions await Russia in the event of a Ukraine invasion with the most severe sanctions relating to Russia’s financial sector, either cutting Russia’s links to the world banking system or cutting off any designated bank from the use of the US dollar.

Ahead of talks, Russia also ruled out concessions with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stating that the Kremlin was disappointed with signals emerging from Brussels and Washington. Some of the sanctions that could be imposed on Russia in the event that a full invasion of Ukraine takes place includes sanctions on Putin’s inner circle, cancelling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany and severing Russia’s links to the world banking system.

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There have also been warnings issued to Russia that the US would deploy more troops at neighbouring Eastern European NATO members such as Poland if Ukraine gets invaded. However, Russia claims that it was decided after the Cold War and was under the impression that NATO would not expand, however, the US alliance had accepted the majority of the Warsaw Pact nations and the three Baltic nations that were formerly under Soviet rule.

Since 2014, Russia has been hit with sanctions consisting of over 500 companies and 300 individuals which have been imposed by either one or multiple nations. These sanctions were in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea during the political unrest that followed after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych scrapped an EU accession agreement in favour of closer ties with Russia.

Crimea has since remained a region of conflict where more than 13,000 people have died since the annexation. However, Moscow has insisted that it wants concrete progress in talks with Washington while Putin’s foreign policy advisor issued a warning after Biden threatened sanctions against Russia, stating that the US would be making a “colossal mistake” if it went ahead with the sanctions.

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