Blinken: US commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is ‘unwavering’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is “unwavering” during a trip to the region aimed at de-escalating tensions with Russia, Reuters reported.
In a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday, Blinken shared the U.S.’s concerns over Russia’s build-up of troops on the border, which has led Western countries to threaten sanctions against Russia.
“The unwavering commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, its independence … that is a view that not only the United States holds but all of our NATO allies hold as well,” Blinken told Kuleba in their meeting.
“That was very, very clearly evident in the conversations that we had over the last couple of days,” Blinken added, via Reuters.
Fears of another Russian invasion of Ukraine have been rising in recent weeks, with Ukraine saying Russia has massed more than 90,000 troops on their long shared border,
Russia argued that Ukraine has started its own military build-up, dismissing rumors that it is preparing a military attack on Ukraine and defending its rights to deploy troops in its own territory, according to Reuters.
Russian and Ukrainian forces have been fighting since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, with some 14,000 people killed in the conflict.
In a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Blinken reiterated the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“We have a strong, ironclad commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Blinken said.
“The best way to avert a crisis is through diplomacy, and that’s what I look forward to discussing with Sergei, including, by both parties, full implementation of the Minsk agreements, with Russia pulling back its forces,” he added.
“The United States is willing to facilitate that, but — and again, in the spirit of being clear and candid, which is the best thing to do, if Russia decides to pursue confrontation, there will be serious consequences.”
In his remarks ahead of their meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia also wanted to avoid conflict, but warned against NATO’s expansion.
“The fact that everyone is talking about the escalation of tensions in Europe on the border between Russia and Ukraine — well, you know very well how we treat this,” he said.
“We, as President Putin stated, do not want any conflicts, but if our NATO partners have stated that no one has a right to dictate to a country that would like to join NATO whether it can do or not, we can say that every country is able to define its own interests to guarantee their security.”
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