Blinken set to meet Russian Lavrov as tensions in Ukraine erupt – .

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Blinken set to meet Russian Lavrov as tensions in Ukraine erupt – .


STOCKHOLM, December 2 (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a European security conference on Thursday, amid escalating tensions over troop reinforcement from Moscow near its border with Ukraine.

The meeting is due to take place on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Stockholm. Blinken will also meet separately with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Read more

Speaking in Riga on Wednesday after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Blinken expressed US concerns over Russia’s large-scale military operations and efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within . Read more

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“We don’t know if President (Vladimir) Putin made the decision to invade. We know he is building the capacity to do it as soon as possible, if he so chooses, ”said Blinken.

The United States is ready to respond with “a series of high impact economic measures that we have refrained from implementing in the past,” he added, without elaborating.

Blinken should relay threat of further sanctions to Lavrov if Russia fails to end troop build-up on Ukraine’s border and remind him that there is a diplomatic solution, senior State Department official said. to journalists.

“Dialogue is more important when things are not going well,” the official said. “Beyond specifying the cost of Russian actions, I am sure the secretary will also want to specify that there is a diplomatic exit. “

BREAKING POINT

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic aspiring to join the European Union and NATO, has emerged as the main hotspot between Russia and the West as relations have deteriorated to their worst level over the years. three decades since the end of the cold war.

Ukraine says Russia has deployed more than 90,000 troops near its long shared border.

Moscow accuses Kiev of continuing its own military reinforcement. He dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that he was preparing for an attack on Ukraine, but defended his right to deploy troops in his own territory as he saw fit. Read more

But Putin also said Russia would be forced to act if NATO placed missiles in Ukraine that could strike Moscow within minutes. Read more

The Kremlin annexed the Crimean Black Sea Peninsula to Ukraine in 2014, then supported rebels fighting government forces from Kiev in the east of the country. This conflict has killed 14,000 people, says Kiev, and is still brewing.

Besides Ukraine, other issues, including cybersecurity and the Kremlin’s treatment of its critics, also helped bring Washington-Moscow relations down to post-Cold War lows.

The director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, raised the issue of Russian cyber attacks earlier this month during a rare visit to Moscow, where he met with senior security officials, three said. sources at Reuters.

Another focal point of East-West tensions has been the refugee crisis on the borders between Belarus, a Russian ally, and NATO member Poland and Lithuania.

Western countries accuse Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of organizing the migrant crisis in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Minsk over his human rights record. Minsk blames the West for the humanitarian crisis.

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Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Riga and Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis in Washington; written by Niklas Pollard

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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