In an official meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister this Wednesday, November 10, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed concern that Russia will again invade Ukraine as it did in 2014 when it invaded Crimea and annexed it into Russian territory.
“Our concern is that Russia may make a serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming falsely that it was provoked,” Blinken said.
“So, the playbook that we’ve seen in the past was to claim some provocation as a rationale for doing what it, what it intended and planned to do. All which is why we’re looking at this very carefully,” the U.S. diplomat added.
The comments by the secretary of state who held a diplomatic meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Washington D.C. come in response to reports that the Russian military has significantly increased its presence on the Ukrainian border.
According to Ukrainian intelligence sources, there are nearly 100,000 Russian troops on the border conducting military exercises.
John Kirby, press secretary of the Department of Defense, said the Russian military presence was “unusual in its size and scope,” and that the U.S. was “monitoring this very closely.”
The press secretary detailed that there is intense Russian military activity on the Ukrainian border and that the U.S. government is unclear about the Russian government’s objective and intentions.
According to The Hill, since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the Kremlin has been supporting separatist groups in eastern Ukraine, fueling rumors of its intentions to invade the country again.
The Kremlin, which has repeatedly denied it has troops in eastern Ukraine, also amassed a large number of its forces in the western part of the country earlier this year, raising concerns in Europe and the United States that it was preparing for possible attacks.
But Russia says its military presence is a response to NATO alliance forces operating near Russia’s borders.
The alleged Russian troop increase coincided with the diplomatic meeting between Blinken and the foreign minister who signed a cooperation agreement where the U.S. government pledges to defend Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty.
Kuleba thanked the American government for the support and said that the signing of the agreement was “an important step” to show the Kremlin that Ukraine “is strong.”
For his part, Blinken reiterated that the U.S. is monitoring the situation with “concern” and advocated a diplomatic solution between the two countries.
Last week, the Biden administration sent CIA Director Bill Burns to Moscow to try to find out why the Russian government was increasing its military presence in the conflict zone, apparently without success.
According to CNN, Burns met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian security chief Nikolai Patrushev, both of whom did not deny the troop buildup on the border, a claim they would have previously rejected as false.
This Wednesday, Karen Donfried, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, referring to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, used a slightly stronger tone and said:
“We’re very clear that we support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that our commitment to that has not changed and is unwavering and that we will continue to stand with Ukraine and we will condemn any Russian aggression against Ukraine in all its forms.”
The tension between Russia and Ukraine comes on top of the recent conflict between Belarus and Poland over a caravan of migrants attempting to force their way into Poland, which the European Union accuses dictator Lukashenko of bringing in to blackmail the European bloc.
The Polish government accused Putin of being behind the maneuver and in response the Russian president sent warplanes to fly over Belarusian airspace.