He said the way forward in Russia’s military build-up – the country currently has around 100,000 soldiers stationed near the border with Ukraine, alarming the US and its allies fearing a similar invasion to 2014 – lies solely with the Russian president Wladimir Putin.
“Look, I can’t tell you if [an invasion is] probably or not, “said Blinken.” I can tell you this: We are committed to dialogue and diplomacy to see whether we can solve these challenges peacefully. That is by far the preferable way, it is by far the most responsible way. But we are also ready to deal with Russia very decisively if it chooses to confront. “
Blinken stressed that progress must be mutual, with both sides taking steps to address each other’s concerns. He said all measures taken would be in coordination with NATO allies, although President Joe Biden had previously ruled out a unilateral sending of American troops to the conflict region at the time.
He also said that possible ramifications for a Russian invasion would include “things we haven’t done in the past” to counter previous aggression from Moscow, such as economic and financial measures.
“I won’t wire the details, but I think Russia has a pretty good idea of what it would face if it renewed its aggression,” he said.
The foreign minister suggested that Putin’s own actions caused the crisis he is allegedly facing. Blinken said that in 2014 around 25 percent of Ukrainians supported the country’s accession to NATO. Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 that number has increased dramatically. In addition, after 2014, NATO was forced to move more equipment and troops closer to Russia.
On ABC’s This Week, Blinken said that this crisis wasn’t just about Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union until it was dissolved in 1991.
“It’s even bigger than Ukraine,” he said. “This concerns some basic principles of international relations that guarantee peace and security. The principle that one nation cannot simply forcefully change another’s borders. The principle that one nation cannot dictate another’s decisions and with whom it associates. The principle that it is not possible for countries to exercise spheres of influence to subdue their neighbors. That should be a relic of the past. “