If Russia decides to invade Ukraine, the United States and its allies are preparing for tougher sanctions against Russia. The New York Times reports that sanctions could be imposed within hours, based on talks with US and European officials.
According to the newspaper, which deliberately leaked sanctions to warn Russian President Putin, arming anti-Russian guerrillas in Ukraine is on the agenda in the event of an invasion. Washington will consult with allies on the possibility of disconnecting major Russian financial institutions from international tariffs.
The news was leaked ahead of key talks between Russia and NATO. Next Wednesday, representatives of NATO, its 30 member states and the Russian Federation will meet in Brussels to discuss the latest military build-up of Russian troops, mainly on the border between Russia and Ukraine. On Monday, US and Russian diplomats are scheduled to meet in Geneva to discuss the crisis.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called for a “two-way street” and said “diplomacy and expansion” were the way forward for the United States and the international community.
Progress may be made during next week’s diplomatic talks between US, European and Russian officials, but Blinken said on Friday that it should be a “two-way street” by stopping Russia’s occupation of Ukraine.
Many NATO officials have told the US news channel that they are optimistic: Putin’s coming to the negotiating table is already a kind of expansion. At the same time, the same diplomats must be careful, because the increasingly hostile Kremlin may not meet with good faith.
Last month, Moscow released two draft agreements outlining its demands for easing tensions on the Ukrainian border. One of those demands is to reduce NATO’s position in Eastern Europe to the level seen in the 1990s, with many countries on Russia’s border and under Soviet control being less protected by the coalition.
From a NATO perspective, this is an unacceptable demand with the promise that NATO will not expand further east. According to some officials, Wednesday presents a good opportunity for NATO to take a firm and united stand: let Russia escalate the situation and face “severe economic consequences.” We will use tools that were not used in 2014. Authorities say Russia has annexed Crimea.
However, according to CNN, the officials in question declined to say which tools were being targeted because “announcing them would give Russia an opportunity to prepare them and defeat the intent.”
However, the New York Times writes that the United States is not entirely confident about the outcome of the talks: the Russians may later announce that their concerns have not been adequately addressed. It may be legal for their military incursion into Ukraine.
Russia has made it clear that it will not make any concessions during the international summit on the heightened tensions over Ukraine. According to the Russian media, “this is not entirely questionable,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybkov.
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