Senior US and EU diplomats discuss Ukraine crisis

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that Ukrainian and Western talk of an impending Russian attack was a “cover to organize their own large-scale provocations, including those of a military character”.

The United States and its NATO allies face a difficult task in the Ukraine crisis. Biden has said he does not plan to send combat troops in the event of another Russian invasion. But he could pursue a range of less dramatic but still risky military options, including supporting a Ukrainian resistance after the invasion.

The reason for not directly joining a Russian-Ukrainian war is simple. The United States has no treaty obligations to Ukraine, and a war with Russia would be a huge gamble. But doing too little also carries risks.

The challenges of keeping the United States and its NATO allies united in its response to Russia were on display Wednesday, when Biden warned Russia against any invasion but also said a “minor incursion” would elicit less response. He then sought to clarify that he was referring to a non-military action, such as a cyberattack – but the remark sparked a barrage of criticism in his country that he was not tough enough on Russia and raised the specter of possible divisions abroad.

Explaining the remark, Biden said “it’s very important that we keep everyone at NATO on the same page.”

Blinken, the top US diplomat, is due to deliver a speech on the Ukraine crisis on Thursday in the German capital before flying to Geneva, where he will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday.

In his speech at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Blinken will expand on the US position on Ukraine, the broader historical context of the current crisis, and the need for the allies to present a unified front to deal with the aggression by Russia and violations of international norms. , U.S. officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly preview Blinken’s speech.

Blinken should also address the Russian people to outline the costs their country will pay if it were to carry out an invasion, they said.

While the Berlin meeting will focus primarily on Ukraine, ongoing talks on reviving an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program will also be discussed, officials said.

Following his meeting with Bilnken this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to arrive in Poland on Thursday, which has long supported Ukraine’s efforts to draw closer to the western democratic world.

This move west is a key point of contention in the standoff with Russia. Moscow wants guarantees that NATO will not expand to include Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations and that the alliance will not deploy weapons in those countries.

Washington and its allies firmly rejected Moscow’s demands at security talks last week, but left the door open for possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures to reduce tensions.

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Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland contributed to this report.

Christi C. Elwood