BERLIN (AA) – The US accused Russia on Friday of deploying additional troops to the Ukrainian border despite its announcement of a partial military withdrawal.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was no sign of a Russian troop pullout.
“On the contrary, we see additional forces going to the border, including leading-edge forces, that would be part of any aggression,” Blinken said.
“So, we have to be informed by that, we have to be extremely vigilant,” he added.
The top American diplomat reiterated that Western nations are willing to find a diplomatic solution, but also ready to respond with sanctions if Russia launches a military attack on Ukraine.
“Even as we are doing everything we possibly can to make clear that there is a diplomatic path, that … differences have to be resolved through dialogue, through diplomacy, we are deeply concerned that this is not the path that Russia has embarked on,” Blinken said.
“He also underlined the unity between the US, its European partners, and NATO allies to counter Russia’s threats and potential aggression.
Blinken stresses solidarity
“The single greatest source of strength that we have in dealing with this challenge is the solidarity. I think (Russian) President Putin has been a little bit surprised at that solidarity, at the way that NATO has come together, the European Union has come together,” he said.
Russia announced earlier that it would not participate in the conference.
The foreign ministers of leading democratic economic powers were scheduled to hold talks on the sidelines of the conference to discuss the Ukraine crisis, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed earlier this week.
Germany currently chairs the G7 group, the other members of which are the US, France, the UK, Italy, Canada, and Japan.
A meeting of the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Ukraine is also planned on the fringes of the conference, according to the German Foreign Ministry.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any plan to invade Ukraine and accused Western countries of undermining Russia’s security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.
It has also issued a list of security demands to the West, including a rollback of troop deployments from some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia should not join NATO.