Antony Blinken: US Preparing Additional Sanctions on Belarus in Coordination With EU
14:41 GMT 01.12.2021 (Updated: 15:41 GMT 01.12.2021)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered his comments after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers that took place in the Latvian capital city of Riga on Wednesday.
Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the United States is preparing new sanctions against Belarus alongside European and other partners.
"The United States is preparing additional sanctions in close coordination with the European Union and other partners and allies," Blinken said.
Earlier in the day, Bloomberg reported that the European Union is expected to approve sanctions targeting Belarusian national carrier Belavia and Syria’s Cham Wings Airlines over the migrant crisis. The reported sanction list also includes nitrogen fertiliser producer Grodno Azot and oil producer Belarusneft, as well as Belarusian border officials and judges. In total, the EU reportedly plans to sanction 17 individuals and 11 entities.
Speaking in Riga after a NATO ministerial meeting, the US Secretary of State also touched upon the situation on the Ukrainian border, particularly addressing recent allegations that Russia is planning to "invade" Ukraine. Blinken, however, acknowledged that it is unknown if Putin "has made the decision to invade."
"We do know that he's putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide," Blinken said.
The Secretary of State voiced Washington's "grave" concerns that Moscow has made plans for an incursion into Ukraine to destabilise the country, claiming that these "plans" include "efforts to destabilise Ukraine from within as well as large scale military operations."
He also noted that NATO does not have any aggressive intentions toward Moscow when it comes to the advancement of the alliance's military infrastructure in the vicinity of Russia's borders.
"Every step that we take is designed to make sure that we have in place effective defensive measures to protect the members of the alliance,” Blinken asserted.
Blinken went on to reveal that he "found tremendous solidarity across the board to pursue strong measures if Russia invades Ukraine and commits renewed acts of aggression."
Earlier, the Kremlin outlined its concerns in regard to NATO moving its military equipment to the vicinity of Russia's borders, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warning that Moscow will "take all the necessary steps to ensure our security."
30 November 2021, 11:40 GMT
With tensions simmering on the Ukrainian border, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that Minsk would offer Moscow the chance to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus if similar NATO systems appear in Poland.
Commenting on this statement, Russia's FM Lavrov said it was "a very serious warning" to the West that is "dictated" by the "reckless policy" it pursues.
Particularly, Russia's Foreign Minister expressed grave concerns about NATO trying to drag Ukraine into its orbit and "provoke" Kiev into taking "anti-Russian" actions.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba argued on Wednesday that Russia had no right to block Kiev's NATO aspirations.
"Russia cannot stop Ukraine from getting closer with NATO and has no right to have any say in relevant discussions," Kuleba said during a briefing in Riga. "Any Russian proposals to discuss with NATO or the United States or any other country any so-called guarantees that the alliance would not expand to the east are illegitimate."
Blinken, in turn, announced that he will hold talks with the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine on Thursday, as all three ministers will gather in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.