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Top U.S., Ukrainian Diplomats Discuss Russian Troop Buildup


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) in Washington, D.C., with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Russia would be making a “serious mistake” if it were to try to repeat what it did in 2014 in Ukraine, and he said Washington was concerned by reports of “unusual Russian military activity" near the Ukrainian border.

Blinken made the comments on November 10 after talks with visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The two diplomats met amid growing concern in Ukraine, and in parts of Europe, about a large buildup of Russian military forces some 260 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border, not far from the border with Belarus.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry last week said that up to 90,000 troops remained in those locations despite the conclusion of military drills, when the units had been expected to return to the regular bases.

Blinken told reporters that the U.S. authorities were unclear about Russia’s intentions with Ukraine, but that Washington’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity was “ironclad.”

“We’re concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine,” he said. “Any escalatory or aggressive actions would be of grave concern to the United States.”

“We don’t have clarity into Moscow’s intentions, but we do know its playbook,” he said.

The two sides also signed a new agreement that pledged cooperation between Washington and Kyiv.

“What is unfolding in Europe now is a very complicated thing with many elements to it,” Kuleba told reporters. “In this complicated game, we have to remain vigilant, we have to be resilient.”

Blinken also mentioned the growing crisis in Belarus, where thousands of migrants -- mainly from the Middle East -- have massed along the border with Poland and Lithuania. Both countries have declared states of emergency and deployed extra border forces.

With reporting by AP
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