Secretary of State to visit Ukraine next week amid tensions with Russia
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he will be visiting Ukraine next week amid tensions with Russia.
Blinken confirmed the trip to Ukraine during an interview with CBS News on 60 Minutes that will premiere Sunday.
The trip to Ukraine comes after Russia built up a large military presence near the border of Ukraine.
“President [Vladimir] Putin has amassed a very large force at the border with Ukraine, more than 100,000 U.S. troops,” Norah O’Donnell asked Blinken. “What is Putin up to?”
“You’re right. There are more forces amassed on the border with Ukraine than any time since 2014, when Russia actually invaded,” Blinken said.
“I can’t tell you that we know Mr. Putin’s intentions. There are any number of things that he could do or choose not to do,” he continued. “What we have seen in the last few days is apparently a decision to pull back some of those forces and we’ve seen some of them in fact start to pull back.”
Russia has pulled some of its troops away since the buildup, but Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said last week that Russia owes the international community an explanation for the aggressive tactic.
“Russia still owes an explanation to Ukraine … and international community of why it really needed to bring such numerous forces equipped with some offensive weapons at the border with Ukraine in such excessive number of troops,” Kuleba said.
Russia claims the buildup at the border was a military exercise and the troops are being recalled now that “the troops have shown their defense capability,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu said.
The U.S. recently put sanctions on Russia for its buildup of the military near the Ukrainian border along with other issues, including the treatment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.