© Reuters. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Secretary of State Annalena Baerbock speak to members of the State Department in Washington, DC, January 5, 2022. Mandel Ngan / Pool via REUTERS
By Simon Lewis and Madeline Chambers
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US and German top diplomats reiterated on Wednesday that they would impose consequences on Russia for an invasion of Ukraine, with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stressing the need for a diplomatic solution to increased tensions between Moscow and the West.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his newly appointed German counterpart met in the State Department ahead of a series of meetings https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/nato-head-convenes-council-with-russia-jan -12-2022-01 -04 with Russian officials in Europe next week.
Alarmed by Russia’s military build – up along Ukraine’s border, Washington has gathered European allies to threaten Russia with sanctions to try to ease tensions.
“Strong transatlantic solidarity is the most effective response and the most effective tool we have to counter Russian aggression,” Blinken said, reiterating a promise https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/blinken-warns-high- impact-economic-steps-if-russia-invades-ukraine-2021-12-01 to go beyond any previous sanctions against Russia and “inflict very significant costs on Russia’s economy and financial system” in the event that Russia invades Ukraine.
Baerbock said Russia was aware that it was the “common position” of Europe and the United States to impose “serious consequences” in the event of an invasion, but did not specify what sanctions Germany would take.
“There is no alternative to a political solution. This should be clear to the Russian government,” Baerbock said according to a live interpretation of her comments after her meeting with Blinken.
Ukraine accuses Russia of gathering around 100,000 troops in preparation for a possible invasion, raising fears that a smoldering conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region could erupt into open war between neighboring Soviet republics.
US President Joe Biden has vowed to continue providing military assistance to Ukraine to defend itself against potential Russian aggression.
Baerbock said Germany had a “different attitude” to the United States regarding the supply of weapons to Ukraine, but that they supported Ukraine’s armed forces through medical supplies and helped with the treatment of Ukrainian soldiers wounded in the conflict.
Blinken and Baerbock said they also discussed the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would supply to Germany and bypass existing transit routes through Ukraine.
Baerbock said the new coalition government that took power in Berlin last month supported a joint statement https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-germany-deal-nord-stream-2-pipeline-draws -ire-lawmakers -both-countries-2021-07-21 signed with Washington by its predecessors in July.
“We agreed with this with European partners that we would take effective action with European partners if Russia were to use energy as a weapon or if it were to continue its aggressive actions against Ukraine,” she said.
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