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Russia accuses US of 'propaganda campaign' about Ukraine invasion

Metro logo Metro 12/02/2022 Faye Brown
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) © Provided by Metro US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R)

The US has warned Russia that an invasion on Ukraine will result in a ‘massive, and united Transatlantic response’ after it accused Washington of a ‘propaganda campaign’.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on the phone on Saturday as last gasp diplomatic efforts to avoid war in Ukraine continue.

The heated talks saw Lavrov accuse America of a ‘propaganda campaign’ about Russian aggression.

He also said the US and EU are pursuing ‘active goals’ in Ukraine while ignoring its proposals on security.

Blinken hit back with the threat of harsh sanctions and called for Moscow to de-escalate.

Spokesperson Ned Price said: ‘Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today by phone to discuss acute and shared concerns that Russia may be considering launching further military aggression against Ukraine in the coming days. 

‘The secretary made clear that a diplomatic path to resolving the crisis remained open, but it would require Moscow to deescalate and engage in good-faith discussions. 

‘He reiterated that should Moscow pursue the path of aggression and further invade Ukraine, it would result in a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response.’

Russia has denied plans to invade Ukraine country despite massing over 100,000 troops on the border. It has also started massive military drills with Belarus, while Ukraine has accused it of blocking its access to the sea.

The US, UK and many other countries are advising their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately amid fears of an attack could happen ‘any day now’.

The US has assessed that a ground invasion could happen as soon as Wednesday, intelligence officials told POLITICO, while cyberattacks can be expected sooner.

Blinken earlier told reporters: ‘We’re in the window when a Russian invasion can start at any time if president Putin so decides.’

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak later today.

The current tensions come eight years after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula. Since then, Ukraine’s military has been locked in a conflict with Russian-backed rebels in eastern areas near Russia’s border.

Moscow is pushing for sweeping changes to defence arrangements on the continent, scaling back Western military presence in country’s close to Russia’s border.

A demand to permanently block Ukraine from joining Nato has been rejected out of hand.

Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky said he could not confirm reports of an invasion next week – though he did not rule it out.

However, he said such warnings are ‘provoking panic’ as he demanded to see firm proof.

Asked by Sky News if he disagrees with the American assessment that there is an imminent threat, he said: ‘We don’t agree or disagree with any information.”

‘We have to be ready each day, it began not yesterday, it began in 2014.’

What is going on with Russia and Ukraine?

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin has been concerned about the West’s military expansion into what it sees as Russia’s backyard.

Nato, the US-dominated military alliance which the UK and the majority of European nations are members of, has expanded over the last two decades to cover eastern European and Baltic states.

Ukraine is recognised as an ‘aspiring member’ and has been growing institutionally closer to the West ever since the 2013 Euromaidan demonstrations led to the pro-Russian government being toppled by protesters who favour deeper ties with Europe.

President Vladimir Putin regards Ukraine - which was part of the Soviet Union until 1991 - as a ‘red line’ and has called on the US and Nato to provide guarantees that it won’t become a member, something the West won’t do.

Russia wants to see Nato returned to something closer to its pre-1997 formation before eastern countries on its border joined, as well as the removal of military capabilities from places like Poland and Romania. 

The situation between Russia and Ukraine is complicated by the historical and cultural ties between the two countries. Russian is widely spoken in Ukraine and the country is divided between people who feel more European and those who feel more Russian, especially in the country’s eastern areas.

President Putin regards Ukraine as part of ‘greater Russia’ and has written and spoken in the past about reuniting the Russian and Ukrainian people.

In 2014, Russia responded to the fall of the pro-Russian government in Kyiv by annexing Crimea. The peninsula to the south of Ukraine is still recognised as part of the country by the United Nations. Pro-Russian sepratist militants seized control of other areas in the country’s east. Ukraine estimates 7% of its territory is illegally occupied by Russia.

Armed conflict has rumbled on in parts of Ukraine ever since but a larger invasion appears to be closer now than ever before after Russia amassed huge military resources close to the border. 

President Putin insists Russia is not planning to invade and it remains unclear whether the troop movement is a prelude to war or whether the Kremlin is using it to force guarantees on Nato expansion from the West.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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