Blinken warns Russia of 'high-impact' economic steps

We are prepared to impose severe costs for further Russian aggression in Ukraine, US secretary of state says.

Blinken warns Russia of 'high-impact' economic steps

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday warned Russia of "high-impact" economic steps in case of further aggression in Ukraine.

“We're concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine,” Blinken said in a news conference on the second day of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Latvia's capital Riga.

The plans include efforts to destabilize Ukraine, the US secretary said, adding: “We've seen this playbook before in 2014 when Russia last invaded Ukraine.”

Also drawing attention to the disinformation, he said they observed social media activity “pushing anti-Ukrainian propaganda” as it was seen during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

“The United States has been engaging intensively with allies and partners on this issue, and directly with (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin,” he said.

Reminding also CIA Director William Burns' visit to Moscow, Blinken said: “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.”

“We are prepared to impose severe costs for further Russian aggression in Ukraine,” he said.

“NATO was prepared to reinforce its defenses on the eastern flank,” he stressed.

Adding that his consultations will continue on Thursday at an OSCE foreign ministers meeting, where he will also meet top Ukrainian and Russian diplomats, Blinken said: “The United States remains unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“Just as we've been clear with Moscow, we're also urging Ukraine to continue to exercise restraint,” he said.

“Diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve this potential crisis,” he also added.

On the migrant crisis at the Belarus-Poland border, Blinken called on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko "to immediately stop using migrants as political weapons."