US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia might strike Ukraine "extremely quickly" and warned of harsh consequences if it did. He was speaking during a visit to Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, following months of tensions over a Russian military buildup on the country's borders.
Mr. Blinken urged "relentless" diplomacy to thwart Russian aggression, emphasizing the US' deep connections with Ukraine. Moscow has rejected any intention of attacking or invading.
Russia has made a number of requests to Western nations, including that Ukraine never join NATO and that the defense alliance's military actions in member states such as Poland be curbed.
Last week's talks between the West and Russia fell short of a resolution, with several of Moscow's requests dismissed as non-starters.
After the collapse of Ukraine's pro-Russian government in 2014, Russia seized the Crimean peninsula. It has backed pro-Russian separatists who control portions of eastern Ukraine following a brutal conflict with Ukrainian forces.
Credit: DIMUSE, iStock
There are worries that the violence, which has claimed at least 13,000 lives and displaced at least two million people, would resurface, with the Russian military openly participating.
Mr. Blinken claimed that Russia has amassed forces on Ukraine's borders for "no provocation, no purpose."
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, who led recent talks with the US in Geneva, stated that his country does not "plan to take any hostile moves."
"We will not strike, assault, or invade Ukraine," he declared during a conference in Moscow.
He stated that the US could not compel Moscow to withdraw its soldiers from the Ukrainian border. "They are on our land, and we will not modify their movement due to foreign pressure," he continued.
Mr. Ryabkov also demanded that Washington end its military backing for Ukraine, which he claimed represented a direct danger to Russian security.
During a visit to Moscow on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that any further military escalation "would bear a hefty price for the Russian state - economic, political, and strategic."
Ukraine's Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has urged Western nations to implement sanctions on Moscow immediately.
He told the BBC's HardTalk show that a Russian invasion of the nation will result in carnage and a refugee problem for Europe.