The United States on Tuesday warned that Russia could attack Ukraine “at any time”, just as Washington is launching a new attempt at talks with Moscow.
“Russia is on the verge of launching an attack on Ukraine at any moment,” White House spokeswoman Zhen Zaki said on Tuesday, referring to the situation as “extremely dangerous.”
A U.S. State Department official warned of a move by Russian troops Tuesday in Ukraine’s neighboring Belarus.
“The fact that we see these movements in Belarus gives the Russians a new approach if they decide to take further military action against Ukraine,” he said.
Last weekend, Washington had already accused Moscow of sending agents to Ukraine to carry out “sabotage” operations to create an “excuse” for an invasion.
This increasingly alarming tone of the United States coincides with the launch of a new attempt to negotiate with Russia.
The head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blingen, will meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva on Friday to try to find a “way out” of everything.
Prior to that, Anthony Blingen was expected in an explosive environment in Kiev on Wednesday, with Russia stationing tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border.
Western nations have warned Russia that the US Secretary of State will travel to Berlin to hold talks with the United Kingdom, France and Germany on the Ukraine issue, and that failure could have serious consequences.
Jen Psaki said there was “no desire” on the part of the US to respond to such an attack, particularly questioning Russia’s exclusion from “Swift”.
Little known to the general public, Swift is a key player in global funding: it provides a standardized language for banks to communicate in the absence of a real competitor, but also a secure, automated and fast network to spread the word.
Swift is a Brussels-based company under Belgian law, but the United States has great influence over its operations.
Another hurdle commonly referred to against Russia is the attack on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany.
Zen Zaki reiterated on Tuesday that targeting this infrastructure, which was not yet working, would create a “credible” influence against Russia, while Berlin was reluctant to accept the idea.
According to Melanie Jolie, a Russian incursion with “serious consequences”
The Canadian diplomat went to Kiev and warned Moscow on Tuesday against an invasion of Ukraine, which would have “severe consequences” and ruled that Russian troops on the border “unacceptable”.
“Any incursion into Ukraine will have serious consequences, including severe integrated sanctions,” Canadian Minister Melanie Jolie told a news conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Dimitro Gouleba.
“The strengthening of Russian military equipment around Ukraine is unacceptable. Russia is the occupier and we must ensure that we stand with Ukraine,” he added.
However, Mr. Kouleba wanted to commit on Tuesday. He said the situation was under control and did not panic.
Several Western officials, including the head of German diplomacy Annalena Berbach on Monday and Ms Jolie on Tuesday, have visited in recent days to express their support for Ukraine.
Following the failure of initial talks last week to defuse tensions, Western nations are trying to persuade Russia to continue talks to resolve the crisis.
“There is only one way possible: Russia must choose to intensify and start a serious dialogue,” Ms Jolie stressed.
Russia, which considers itself a threat from NATO, is demanding that the Atlantic Alliance not extend further to Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine. A request that is unacceptable to Western nations.