Wednesday, May 18

Ukraine: Washington warns of a possible Russian attack “at any time”

Attack on Ukraine possible “at any time”, maneuvers considered worrying in Belarus: the United States is now sounding the alarm all over the place against Russia, with which they however claim to still be seeking a “diplomatic exit door”.

“We are at a stage where Russia can launch an attack in Ukraine at any time,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking of an “extremely dangerous situation”.

Shortly after, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken flew to Europe. On his program: consultations with Ukraine and the Europeans but above all, on Friday, an interview with his Russian counterpart in Geneva.

Washington was also alarmed by present and future Russian maneuvers in Belarus, a country neighboring Ukraine.

The Pentagon spokesman said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “clearly building up a force system giving him several options.”

A State Department official said Russian-Belarusian military drills announced by Belarus on Tuesday went “far beyond normal” and could portend a permanent Russian military in the former Soviet republic. remained intimately linked to Moscow.

The same source was also worried about a constitutional reform project in Belarus which would allow the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in this country bordering Ukraine but also Poland.

– Unplug Swift –

If Moscow takes action in Ukraine, “no option is excluded” on the American side, warned Jen Psaki, questioned both on the very strategic Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline leading to Germany, and on an exclusion of Russia from “Swift”, an essential system of international banking exchanges.

At the end of last week, Washington had already accused Moscow of having sent agents to Ukraine to carry out “sabotage” operations in order to create a “pretext” for an invasion.

This increasingly alarmist tone on the part of the United States coincides with a new attempt at dialogue with Russia.

American diplomacy has thus confirmed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Friday in Geneva.

“It is still too early to tell whether the Russian government is sincerely interested in diplomacy, whether it is ready to negotiate seriously and in good faith, or whether it will use these discussions as a pretext to claim that diplomatic exchanges are not disregarded Moscow’s interests,” a State Department source said on condition of anonymity.

Before that, Antony Blinken is expected in Kiev on Wednesday in an explosive context, Russia having deployed tens of thousands of soldiers on the Ukrainian border.

– Russia “aggressor” –

He was preceded there on Tuesday by his Canadian counterpart Mélanie Joly, who stressed the need to stand “alongside Ukraine” against Russia, which “is the aggressor”.

The US Secretary of State will then travel to Berlin for talks with the UK, France and Germany.

London, for its part, announced the shipment of weapons, such as anti-tank missiles, to Ukraine, while Kiev was rightly complaining about the lack of eagerness of the West to strengthen their military aid.

Russia had previously demanded “concrete” answers to its demands on Tuesday before any new talks on Ukraine.

In addition to a treaty banning any enlargement of NATO, in particular to Ukraine and Georgia, another former Soviet republic, Moscow is demanding that the Americans and their allies give up organizing maneuvers and military deployments in Europe. from the east.

Negotiations last week in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna have so far only made it possible to note the gap separating Moscow from the West.

“We are waiting for the answers that we have been promised (…) in order to continue the negotiations,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

– Russia says it is threatened by NATO –

Russia denies any belligerent ambition in Ukraine and says it is threatened by the strengthening of NATO in the region.

But during a press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, Mr. Lavrov rejected the Western request to withdraw the tens of thousands of Russian soldiers present on the Ukrainian border, assuring that these troops did not threaten anyone.

“More than 100,000 Russian troops, equipment and tanks have been deployed near Ukraine for no reason. It’s hard not to see that as a threat,” Baerbock replied.

Adding to the tensions, Moscow has started sending an unspecified number of troops to Belarus for combat readiness drills on the EU and Ukraine borders.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told foreign military attachés stationed in the Russian capital that these maneuvers were intended to “repel external aggression”.

In response to a pro-Western revolution in Ukraine, Russia already annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and is widely seen as the military sponsor of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the scene of a war since almost eight years.

burx-aue / ube

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