“We’re concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity,” Blinken said in an appearance with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the State Department, adding that the US is “monitoring very closely” the Russia activity.
“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, referring to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. “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.”
He also reiterated the US’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence, calling it “ironclad.”
Kuleba said the US and Ukraine shared “elements” with each other Wednesday regarding the Russian military activities and expressed gratitude for the US move to expand defense and security cooperation “to help Ukraine build its capacity to defend itself and also to deter Russia to demotivate them from taking further aggressive actions.”
Blinken and Kuleba addressed reporters at the conclusion of a strategic dialogue that led to the signing of a renewed Ukraine-US Strategic Partnership.
“The best way to deter aggressive Russia is to make it clear for the Kremlin that Ukraine is strong,” Kuleba said. “I have repeated on numerous occasions that Russian aggression against Ukraine will end on the day Ukraine’s placed as part of the West is institutionalized and undoubted. Today, we have made another important step in that direction.”
Blinken said the US would continue to “consult closely as well with allies and partners” about Russia’s troop build-up.
“As we make clear, any escalatory or aggressive actions will be of great concern to the United States.” He added that the US will continue to support deescalation in the region and a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Multiple US and Ukrainian sources told CNN that Burns was also supposed to try to determine what is motivating Russia’s actions in his meetings with senior Kremlin security officials directly involved in the military activity.
This story is breaking and will be updated.