Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Ukraine in the coming days amid rising tensions between the United States and Russia over the possibility of a Russian invasion of their neighboring nation, the State Department said Tuesday.
Blinken will arrive in Kiev in the coming hours on a trip arranged at the last minute as a show of U.S. support following diplomatic talks between Moscow and the West last week in Europe in which the sides tried in vain to bridge differences over Ukraine and security issues.
Those meetings have apparently heightened fears of a Russian invasion, and President Joe Biden’s administration has accused Moscow of preparing a false flag operation so it would have a pretext to intervene. Russia has angrily rejected the accusation.
From Kiev, Blinken will travel to Berlin on Thursday to meet with his counterparts from Germany, Britain and France with whom he will discuss a possible response to any Russian military move. Russia has stationed some 100,000 troops with tanks and heavy weaponry near the Ukrainian border in what many observers believe could be preparations for an invasion.
On Monday, the head of Russian diplomacy rejected U.S. accusations that a pretext was being prepared to invade Ukraine. Speaking to the press, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the U.S. allegation total disinformation.
Lavrov reaffirmed that Russia expects to receive this week a response from the United States and its allies to Moscow’s request for binding assurances that NATO will not incorporate and Ukraine and other nations of the former Soviet Union or station soldiers and weapons on their territory.
Washington and its allies forcefully rejected such claims by Moscow both in bilateral negotiations in Geneva and at a NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels.