The United States has said Moscow’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine are “part of the Russian book” after the United Kingdom issued a stern warning of an alleged plot to install a puppet government in Kiev.
Anthony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said on Sunday that Washington had been “concerned” for weeks about Russian tactics, including President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to change Kiev’s government.
He was speaking after the United Kingdom said in an emergency statement late Saturday that there was evidence that Russia was planning to install a pro-Moscow leader in Ukraine – citing a figure favored by the Kremlin.
Asked about the threat of ousting Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and his government, Blinken told CBS it was “part of the Russian book.”
Russia has gathered more than 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and promised “the most unpredictable and severe consequences for European security” if the United States does not accept its demands to halt NATO enlargement.
Blinken told CBS that the United States remains committed to diplomacy with Russia, but at the same time builds “defense and deterrence.”
“We have now provided more security assistance to Ukraine this year than in any previous year. We have brought together allies and partners around the world. “We are preparing huge consequences for Russia if it invades Ukraine again,” he told NBC.
The United States has tried to find common ground with Moscow on issues such as arms control, but warned that Russia’s main complaints against the transatlantic military alliance – which will essentially rewrite the entire post-Cold War security order if implemented – are unacceptable.
Allies in the United States and Europe have promised “crippling” sanctions against Russia for aggression against Ukraine and have tried to uncover its plans by releasing selected intelligence, but have struggled to agree on details on how to respond.
The British Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Community and Development has named the pro-Russian leader Moscow wants to install in Ukraine as Eugene Muraev, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who owns a major television station but has provided no evidence. Muraev denied the allegation and scoffed.
Russia’s foreign ministry has dismissed the allegations as “nonsense” and accused the United Kingdom of escalating tensions over Ukraine.
The Russian embassy in London said: “The logic is simple: don’t let a day go by without accusing Russia of preparing an” inevitable “invasion of Ukraine, and on this imaginary” basis “try to play the ideological leader of the” free world “. Defending themselves against the “autocrats”.
Tensions among Western allies erupted again over the weekend when the German navy chief resigned after saying Putin “only wants respect” and that Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, will never be returned to Ukraine.
Blinken insisted that “Germans share our concerns” about Russian aggression and were part of a united front between Europe and the United States.
“I am very convinced that there will be a unified response to everything that Russia is doing,” he said, whether Moscow is sending forces to Ukraine or resorting to “hybrid actions, cyber attacks, efforts to overthrow the government,” he told CBS.
Washington this week imposed sanctions on four people it accused of trying to destabilize Ukraine on behalf of the Russian government. Among them was Vladimir Sivkovich, a former deputy head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, whom the United Kingdom cited on Saturday as one of Ukraine’s politicians with ongoing ties to Russia’s intelligence services.
Blinken told CBS that while the United States is engaged in diplomacy, NATO “will continue to be significantly strengthened if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression.”
The United States has promised to send a written response to Russia’s draft security proposals this week after talks with Moscow in Geneva and Brussels failed to break through.