Russian Foreign Minister warns West against “aggressive line” in Ukraine crisis | Russia

Russia’s top diplomat has warned the West that its “aggressive” approach to Ukraine and threat of sanctions could force Moscow to “eliminate unacceptable threats to our security,” after a high-stakes conversation between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden failed to defuse the crisis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks were released shortly after the Russian and US Presidents held a 50-minute phone call in which the two sides exchanged threats over tensions over Ukraine .

During the phone call, Biden told Putin that the United States would impose severe sanctions on Moscow in case Russian forces, which include tanks, artillery and even short-range ballistic missiles, launch. an attack on Ukrainian forces.

Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin aide, said Putin responded that further sanctions could lead to “a complete severing of ties between our countries.” “Our president also mentioned that it would be a mistake that our descendants would consider a huge mistake,” Ushakov told reporters Thursday evening.

The United States and other Western countries have said Russia is massaging military materiel at the Ukrainian border for what could be a potential invading force. Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have participated in combat training for a possible Russian assault, although the situation in the country is largely normal before the New Year’s holidays.

Earlier this week, Ukraine’s National Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Kiev was concerned about Russian troops at the border, but added there was no panic. He said: “As for the build-up of troops near our borders reported by foreign media – we don’t see it. There is some increase in [Russian] military and we are closely monitoring what is happening at our borders.

Ukrainian military intelligence had previously warned of a massive build-up of Russian military equipment at the border and the potential for a full-scale Russian offensive by mid-January. Russian delegations are then expected to meet with officials from the United States, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for a series of high-stakes talks on European security.

Lavrov, in an interview with the RIA Novosti news agency, said Russia insisted that US and NATO military officials participate in the negotiations next month. Moscow would not allow the talks to be dragged down by Western nations, he said.

“If there is no constructive response within a reasonable time and the West continues its aggressive line, then Russia will be obliged to take all necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and eliminate threats unacceptable to our country. security, ”Lavrov added.

Analysis by the Conflict Intelligence Team, a group of bloggers and analysts who collect open source intelligence on Russian military movements, showed that Russian military materiel continued to arrive in the area to the northeast of Russia. Ukraine and Crimea in the past. month.

The group concluded that “by the new year the concentration of vehicles near the borders of Ukraine and the Crimea has reached an unprecedented scale, most likely exceeding the figures for April”. Russia staged a massive build-up of troops earlier this year, leading to a summit between Putin and Biden in Geneva in June.

However, Moscow is not yet ready to launch the operation, the group noted, adding that a limited strike against the Ukrainian military was more likely than a full-scale operation to seize and hold territory.

Christi C. Elwood