Western powers threatened this Friday to impose Russia “Severe” sanctions, which will hit the financial and energy sectors, in the event that President Vladimir Putin orders an invasion of Ukraine, something the United States fears will happen imminently.
These threats were communicated after a videoconference in which the US president, Joe Biden, and the heads of state or government of six allied countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Canada) participated together with the leaders of the NATO and the European Union (EU).
- The US believes that an invasion of Ukraine can start with bombing and missiles
- The United States warns that Russia already has enough forces to invade Ukraine
- The US will send 3,000 more troops to Poland “in the next few days”
“All diplomatic efforts seek to persuade Russia to go towards de-escalation. The goal is to prevent a war in Europe.”tweeted after the conclave the spokesman for the German head of government.
But “the allies are determined to jointly take swift and severe sanctions against Russia if there are new violations of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” he added.
The sanctions will mainly target “finance and energy sectors, as well as exports of high-tech products”said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, quoted in a statement from this body, considered the Executive of the European Union.
The United States estimates that Russia could take action in Ukraine “anytime”, even before the end of the Beijing Olympics scheduled for February 20, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday.
“We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including the arrival of new forces on the border with Ukraine,” Sullivan told reporters in Washington. However, the United States “is not saying” that Putin has already made the decision to invade, he said.
The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, considered shortly before that Russia could invade Ukraine “at any moment”, after having concentrated more than 100,000 soldiers and heavy weapons on its border with that former Soviet republic.
Both the United Kingdom and the United States urged their citizens to quickly leave Ukraine.
“We urge British citizens in Ukraine to leave immediately by commercial means while they are available,” said a British government spokesman.
The White House urged to leave the country “in the next 24 to 48 hours.”
President Biden, however, ruled out sending soldiers to Ukraine, even to evacuate its citizens in the event of an invasion, because that could cause a “World War”.
fears of war
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in the videoconference “to fear for the security of Europe in the current circumstances”.
Discussions between the parties have increased in recent days, but no progress has been made to resolve the crisis, which Westerners describe as the most dangerous since the end of the Cold War three decades ago.
Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, denies any warlike intention towards Ukraine, but conditions the de-escalation to NATO assuring it that the country will never be incorporated into the Transatlantic Military Alliance. A condition that Westerners consider unacceptable.
In parallel, Moscow announced new military maneuvers on the Ukrainian border, in addition to those it has already been carrying out since Thursday in Belarus, a neighboring country of Ukraine.
In addition, the Russian Navy is conducting exercises in the Black Sea.
European leaders have engaged in a diplomatic frenzy in recent weeks to try to defuse the crisis, including visits to Moscow by the French president and soon the German head of government.
The four-party talks held on Thursday in Berlin, in which Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France participated, highlighted the gap that separates Moscow from the Westerners and from its Ukrainian ally.
Russia lamented on Friday that those discussions did not yield “any results”.
The French presidency reported, for its part, that Macron will speak on Saturday with Putin.
Moscow also insists that the Ukrainian government negotiate directly with the pro-Russian separatists in the east, whom the Ukrainian army has been fighting since 2014 in a conflict that has left more than 13,000 dead.
But Ukraine he refuses, considering that the only legitimate interlocutor is the Russian government, which he accuses of supporting the separatists.
Still, Kiev said on Friday that “everyone is willing to get a result” and that negotiations will continue.
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