US sends message to Ukraine
As the White House urged Americans to leave Ukraine and warned of the possibility of a Russian invasion “any day now,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his counterpart in Kiev, Dmitry Kuleba, on Friday with a message of “robust” support.
“I had a productive call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister [Kuleba] on our continued efforts to support Ukraine and deter Russia from further aggression. Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering,” Blinken tweeted on Friday, while on a trip to Australia and Fiji.
More details came from State Department spokesman Ned Price, who said in a statement that Blinken spoke with Kuleba to “reaffirm the United States’ robust support for Ukraine in the face of an increasingly acute threat of possible further Russian aggression.”
Blinken “underscored that any and all aggression against Ukraine by Russia will be met with swift, severe, and united consequences,” Price added, and briefed Kuleba on “global efforts to urge de-escalation and enhance defense and deterrence measures” against Russia’s alleged military build-up near the Ukraine’s border.
The US will provide Ukraine with both security assistance and “enhanced economic support,” Kuleba tweeted, warning Russia that “Ukraine and its partners are ready to take decisive action to protect our state.”
The US has accused Russia of preparing an “invasion” of Ukraine since late October, pointing to what it said was 100,000 or more troops. Moscow has called these claims “fake news” and said the presence of Russian troops inside Russia was none of Washington’s business.
Earlier this month, the White House announced it would stop using the word ‘imminent’ to describe the invasion, which has stubbornly failed to materialize for over three months. On Friday, however, both Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said US intelligence had concluded the Russians were about to invade “any day now.”
Sullivan even described the hypothetical invasion in graphic terms, urging any American civilians to leave Ukraine while they still can, as there is “no prospect of a US military evacuation” such as the one in Afghanistan should Russia actually invade.