The White House announced that President Joe Biden stressed during a call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky the readiness of the United States and its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia invaded Ukraine. While Moscow denied the accusations against it, the Security Council will hold a session next Monday to discuss the crisis.
The White House added that President Biden affirmed the United States’ support for efforts to resolve the conflict, according to the Normandy formula.
US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said Russia’s rejection of diplomacy over Ukraine would come at a great cost.
Nuland expressed her hope that Moscow would study her country’s proposals and return to the negotiating table, stressing her country’s readiness for bilateral talks.
Nuland said that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would not go forward.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Russia was massing more combat troops in the west of the country and in Belarus.
In a press conference, Kirby explained that Russia is accumulating its forces at the borders of Ukraine, and its naval forces in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, in addition to the Atlantic Ocean.
On Thursday, the United States asked for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to be held next Monday on Ukraine.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield said in a statement that “more than 100,000 Russian soldiers are deployed on the Ukrainian border, and Russia is engaged in other destabilizing activities targeting Ukraine, which constitutes a clear threat to international peace and security and to the Charter of the United Nations.”
“As we continue our relentless diplomatic endeavor to defuse tensions in the face of this grave threat to European and global peace and security, members of the Security Council must look at the facts openly,” she added.
Monday will be the last day of Norway’s presidency of the council, and Tuesday will hand over the task to Russia for the month of February.
A diplomat noted that asking for a meeting next month, with the Russian presidency of the council, would have been more complicated for the United States.
Washington had indicated in mid-January that it did not intend to resort to the Security Council until after a possible military intervention in Ukraine, as happened in the case of Crimea.
But Ambassador Greenfield said in her statement Thursday, “Now is not the time to wait and see. The full attention of the Council is now required.”
And the Wall Street Journal reported that in recent days, US officials had held lengthy talks with officials around the world, in an attempt to persuade gas buyers in South Korea, Japan and other countries to allow the United States to reroute gas shipments from Qatar and Azerbaijan to Europe.
Efforts have intensified in recent weeks, as Moscow’s escalation with Kiev has left European governments contemplating a previously unimaginable scenario for a conflict that would cut off gas flows from Russia, which supplies about 40 percent of the natural gas to the 27-nation bloc.
Meanwhile, the areas near the line of contact separating the pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian forces in the Donbass region are in a state of anticipation due to the continuous escalation between the two sides in the region.
Despite the calm witnessed by the fronts during the past two days, the separatists accuse Ukraine of continuing to mobilize its forces towards the lines of contact, and do not rule out the possibility of Kiev launching a military operation against them.
On the other hand, a report by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry stated that the Donbass front has remained calm during the last hours.
This came days after the violations witnessed by the pro-Russian separatists in the front, which resulted in casualties among the Ukrainian army, according to Kiev’s account.
Al-Jazeera correspondent in Ankara stated that the Turkish National Security Council called on the various parties to the crisis to reduce tension and resort to rationality.
In a statement issued after a council meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara said increasing tension would not be in the interest of any party.
Russia rejects the accusations about the movements of its forces inside its territory and denies the existence of any aggressive plans it has towards Ukraine.
She expressed her lack of optimism that the United States will meet its broad security demands in order to defuse the Ukrainian crisis.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the United States had not responded “decisively” to all provisions of the security guarantees proposals.
Lavrov added to reporters that the US response includes positions that allow the start of a serious dialogue on secondary issues, but he stressed that there is no positive response from Washington to the main issue in the Russian proposals, which is the issue of the non-expansion of NATO towards the east and the deployment of offensive weapons that could threaten Russian lands.
The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) yesterday evening delivered their responses to Russia regarding security guarantees.
The Russian minister stressed that his country will send an inquiry to Washington and Western countries about the reasons for ignoring its commitments related to the indivisibility of security, pointing out that “the content of the American response to our proposals regarding security guarantees will soon be published in the public.”
Lavrov said that President Vladimir Putin will take a decision on the next steps after studying and agreeing with the relevant ministries regarding the Western response to the Russian proposals related to security guarantees requested by Moscow.
And the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said that his country had submitted its written response to Russia regarding the security guarantees demanded by Moscow, and that his country would not publish the response publicly because it needed to open a space for diplomacy, as he described it.