There is evidence that the Russian Federation has plans for significant aggressive moves against the Ukrainian state, U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said at a news briefing at the conclusion of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Riga, Latvia, on December 1.

In his words, the Kremlin’s plans include considerable efforts to destabilize Ukraine within as well as large-scale military operations.

The chief American diplomat stressed, “We do not know whether President Putin has made a decision to invade. But we do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide.”

If the Russian Federation is so determined to invade, then Blinken has warned, “We’ve made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high-impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from using in the past.”

Antony Blinken emphasized the general agreement of the participants in the meeting who voiced clear and loud their readiness to act decisively should Russia resort to provocations and aggression against Ukraine.

“We’ve shared our thinking with allies and partners, - the Secretary of State went on to say, - and I found a tremendous solidarity across the board in a determination and willingness to pursue strong measures if Russia invades Ukraine and commits renewed acts of aggression.”

At the same time, he made it clear that diplomacy is in fact the only way of reaching the settlement of this potential crisis.

“We continue to believe that there is a diplomatic path forward, and that is by far the preferred path. … And that diplomatic path forward lies in the Minsk agreements that were reached in 2014 and 2015 but that have not been implemented, principally because Russia has reneged on its commitments.”

To emphasize his point Blinken warned, “And again, should Russia reject diplomacy and reinvade Ukraine, we will be prepared to act. It’s very important that, again, Russia understands that any of the actions that it’s contemplating will have serious consequences.”

The State Secretary has urged the Allies to make sure that Ukraine will be provided with all means to be able to defend herself.

On the closing day of the meeting of foreign ministers, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded from NATO clear legal obligations precluding the Alliance from moving east. Putin stressed, “I especially note that we need legal guarantees of security.”

Responding to the demands of the Russian president, Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, said, “Russia cannot prevent Ukraine from rapprochement with NATO and therefore has no right to speak on the matter in relevant discussions. Any Russian proposal to discuss with NATO, the United States or other countries the so-called guarantees precluding the Alliance’s movement east is illegal.” Kuleba said this at a press conference following the meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

The position of Ukraine was fully supported by NATO member-countries.

In commenting on the Russian demands, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “Just the question is reflecting something that is not acceptable. And that is that Russia has a sphere of influence. They try to re-establish some kind of acceptance that Russia has the right to control what neighbours do, or not do.”

Stoltenberg made it clear that in case of Russian escalation in Ukraine NATO countries “have a wide range of options to make sure that Russia will be confronted with serious consequences. Everything from economic sanctions, financial sanctions, political restrictions.”

And although the clause of collective security covers only NATO member-countries, the Alliance’s partners can count of its full support.

The Secretary-General of the Alliance said, “Georgia and Ukraine are long-standing and close NATO partners. And we remain committed to enhance our support to both countries. We are already strengthening their capabilities to defend themselves.”

The newspaper Voice of Ukraine