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US warns any movement of Russian military forces across Ukraine's border will be met with 'severe response'

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has said any movement of “Russian military forces across Ukraine’s border” will be met with a “swift, severe and united response”.

He also warned Moscow’s “extensive playbook of aggression” would also be met with action – following his crunch talks with his counterpart foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, aimed at defusing tensions over the former Soviet republic.

With an estimated 100,000 Russian troops amassed on the Ukranian border, many fear Moscow is preparing an invasion, leading to a bloody conflict, although the Kremlin denies this.

Speaking during a news conference in Geneva following his meeting, Mr Blinken said the discussion with Mr Lavrov was not a negotiation but “a candid exchange of views”.


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“I conveyed the position of the US and our European allies and partners that we stand firmly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

“We have been clear, if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine’s border, that is a renewed invasion. It will be met with swift, severe and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies.”

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The US secretary of state also warned of Russia’s “extensive playbook of aggression short of military action”, which he said includes “cyberattacks, paramilitary tactics and other means of advancing their interests aggressively without using military action”.

“Those types of Russian aggression, will be met with a decisive, calibrated and again united response,” Mr Blinken said.

But he said the US would be open to a meeting between the Russian leader Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, if it would be “useful and productive.”

Mr Lavrov described the talks as “constructive and useful” and said that the US agreed to provide written responses to Russian demands on Ukraine and NATO next week.

But he said: “I can’t say whether we are on the right path or not.

“We will see when we get the American responses.”

Moscow has demanded that NATO promise Ukraine will never be allowed to join the military alliance.

It also wants the allies to remove troops and military equipment from parts of eastern Europe.

However, the US and its allies have rejected these demands and repeatedly promised “severe” consequences including tough economic sanctions – though not military action – against Russia if an invasion goes ahead.

It came as the US treasury department slapped new sanctions on four Ukrainian officials, accused of being at the centre of a Kremlin effort to damage Ukraine’s ability to “independently function”.

Mr Blinken has also stressed US unity with its partners after US President Joe Biden drew widespread criticism for saying retaliation for Russian aggression in Ukraine would depend on the circumstances and that a “minor incursion” would see a lesser response.

Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would lead to a “terrible quagmire and loss of life” similar to the Soviet-Afghan war.

She said: “We need everyone to step up. Together with our allies, we will continue to stand with Ukraine and urge Russia to de-escalate and engage in meaningful discussions. What happens in eastern Europe matters for the world.”

Britain’s armed forces have flown thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine amid fears of an imminent invasion.


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