Blinken stressed in the phone call that the diplomatic track is still “open” to avoid a conflict in Ukraine, but it requires a “de-escalation” from Moscow and a dialogue in good faith, according to “AFP”.
State Department spokesman Ned Price added that an invasion of Ukraine, which Russia is accused of planning, “would lead to a firm, substantial, and united transatlantic response.”
For his part, Sergey Lavrov described Washington’s accusations that it fears an invasion of Russia in the coming days as “provocations”, according to a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Lavrov pointed out that “the propaganda campaign launched by the United States and its allies on “Russian aggression” against Ukraine is aimed at provocation.”
He urged the authorities in Kiev to embark on a “military solution to the problem of Donbass”, the region in eastern Ukraine on the border with Russia where Ukrainian forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists with Moscow’s support for eight years, according to a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The United States says Russia may invade Ukraine “at any time” in the coming days.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said at the White House after a hypothetical meeting of key Western leaders that a similar attack is a “very real possibility”, but that US intelligence does not know whether the Russian president has “made a final decision” in this regard or not.
Many countries, most notably Germany and the Netherlands, recommended their nationals to leave Ukraine, and the US embassy in Kiev on Saturday asked all its non-essential employees to leave as well.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts are continuing, and President Putin is supposed to speak Saturday with his American counterparts, Joe Biden and French, Emmanuel Macron.