Sunday’s statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested that Russia’s decision in Belarus to expand military drills suggests that it is “on the brink” of an invasion.
The White House announced that President Joe Biden called a meeting of National Security Council members to discuss the escalated crisis in Ukraine. This was amid rising violence and fears that Russia might invade.
Just before noon, Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, and Antony Blinken (Secretary of State), were seen entering the West Wing.
The White House tweeted a photo showing that William Burns, CIA Director, and Janet Yellen from Treasury Secretary were also present at the Situation Room meeting. This agency would be crucial in imposing sanctions on Russia if they invade Ukraine.
According to a White House official, Vice President Kamala Harris will be participating remotely from Air Force Two when she returns from Germany. She met with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, at the Munich Security Conference.
In recent weeks, the U.S., NATO and its allies have tried to find diplomatic solutions for the growing crisis at Ukraine’s borders. Blinken stated earlier Sunday that Russia’s decision to expand military drills in Belarus “suggests that this is dead serious and that we are on the verge of an invasion.”
Blinken spoke out on CNN’s “State of the Union”, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We will do all we can to prevent it from happening before it does, but equally, we’re ready, if he does continue to follow through, for massive consequences to provide for Ukraine’s ongoing defense and to strengthen NATO.”
Blinken stated on NBC’s Meet the Press that the meeting he was scheduled to have with Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, would be canceled if Moscow invades. Chuck Todd was asked by Blinken if it would signify a “war is over” if the meeting was canceled. He replied, “That’s a pretty solid summary.”
He said, “Yes, we’re doing all we can,” “And it is my responsibility to do all I can diplomatically to avoid war,” he said.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitored a substantial rise in ceasefire violations Saturday in eastern Ukraine. This is despite several shaky ceasefires.
Late Saturday, it reported that 975 ceasefire violations had been recorded in Luhansk on Friday and 591 in Donetsk. These numbers are much higher than those it reported last week. The organization doesn’t tend to assign blame.
Officials from the separatist territories claimed that Ukrainian forces launched several artillery strikes over the past few days, and that two civilians were killed during an unsuccessful attack on a village they controlled early Sunday.
According to a Ukrainian official, the country’s forces are not responsible because his troops were “instructed not to engage in active action” and that they had to realize that the Russians would love to invade.
According to the Ukrainian army, a soldier was hurt by cease-fire violations by separatists. After repeated shelling, the Ukrainian military closed down a crucial checkpoint that led to the separatist area on Sunday.
Ukraine repeatedly denied that it would launch an offensive against the separatist-held area and stated it only wants a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
U.S. officials and Western officials warned that the Kremlin could use this area to stage a false flag operation to justify a larger invasion. Zelenskyy Saturday said that claims that his forces were attacking the region were “pure lies”.
Separatist leaders urged people to evacuate on Friday after warning about a possible attack from Kyiv. more than 40,000 people crossed the border into Russia, according to Russia’s state-run Tass news agency.
In an interview with Russia’s Russia 1 TV, Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, warned Sunday about the dangers of tensions in Ukraine.
In Ukraine’s northern region, in Belarus. The Russian military has been participating in massive military drills in Ukraine’s north. However, the Defense Ministry stated in a statement that while the maneuvers were over, it was necessary to continue “readiness checks” due to rising tensions.
The U.S. and its allies have previously expressed concern that the drills could be used to cover an invasion of Moscow in what is rapidly becoming Europe’s most serious security crisis ever since the Cold War.
Russia insists that the drills are defensive in nature and that its troops (which NATO estimates at 30,000) will return to their posts once the exercises have ended.
Sunday, the U.S. ambassador at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He tweeted that none of the claims by Belarus about “unprecedented Russian militarisms on its territory” were “credible” and stated that the justification for continuing them is “flimsy.”
Even though Moscow has amassed thousands of troops along Ukraine’s eastern, northern and southern borders, it has repeatedly denied plans to invade.
Austin referred to Putin Sunday, saying that Russia’s military buildup close to the border has raised fears of an invasion.
Austin stated on ABC’s “This Week” that if he uses such a combat power, it will surely cause enormous casualties among the civilian population. “
John Kirby, Defense Department press secretary, stated Sunday that Putin will be held responsible for any casualties if he moves against Ukraine despite diplomatic efforts by NATO and the U.S. to stop an invasion. Kirby stated on Fox News Sunday that “they won’t have an excuse which merits any kind of credibility” and that Russia still has “diplomatic alternatives left on the table.”
Zelenskyy asked Putin to meet him in person Saturday at the Munich security conference.
Zelenskyy stated that he didn’t know the wishes of the Russian President, so he suggested a meeting. The event was attended by Harri and other Western leaders.
The Kremlin has yet to respond.
Zelenskyy demanded immediate sanctions against Moscow in a speech he delivered at Saturday’s conference. Blinken defended Sunday’s administration’s decision to not issue sanctions in advance of an invasion.
He said that he would do everything possible to convince President Putin to reverse his decision and dissuade him.
Harris concluded a weekend of outreach and engagement to European allies, with an effort to strengthen the West’s resolve to confront Moscow with severe sanctions.
“We’re discussing the possibility of war in Europe. Harris said that she meant to take a moment to really understand the significance of what Harris was talking about before returning to Washington.