Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday warned Moscow of “massive consequences” over Ukraine as the US and its allies are stepping up rhetoric ahead of planned talks with Russia.
Blinken said the “consequences” would include sanctions “that we haven’t used before.” The US has threatened sanctions that would aim to isolate Russia from the global financial system, something Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against in a recent call with Biden.
Leading up to the US-Russia talks that are scheduled for Monday, the US is still accusing Russia of planning an invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow denies. “We’re prepared to respond forcefully to further Russian aggression,” Blinken said. “But a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable if Russia chooses it.”
Other NATO members also had harsh words for Moscow on Friday. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Putin of bypassing the EU by seeking talks with the US first.
“Putin wants to bypass the European Union … he wants to put dents in the EU cohesion, which is solidifying,” Le Drian said.
Russia has submitted a list of security proposals to the US and is seeking guarantees that NATO won’t expand further eastward. But both Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the Russian demand was unacceptable, setting the tone for hostile talks.