Russia has choice between dialogue, confrontation: US
The United States once again warns Russia of any "aggressive" action against Ukraine, threatening with sanctions and other punitive economic measures.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday Russia had the choice between dialogue and confrontation, hours ahead of Russian-US talks in Geneva in light of soaring tensions over Ukraine.
"There's a path of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation," Blinken told CNN's State of the Union.
He asserted that the other path consisted of "confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine. We are about to test the proposition about which path President Putin is prepared to take."
Russia is facing US-European allegations of a military buildup on its shared borders with Ukraine, which they claim amounts to 100,000 Russian troops.
The secretary of the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council said Thursday his country believed there was no immediate threat of a major Russian invasion. Similarly, Kyiv had denied in November Western reports of a Russian military buildup near its eastern border.
According to Blinken, any positive outcome from the talks would rely in part on Russia's willingness to "stand down from its aggressive posture," which he likened to "an atmosphere of escalation with a gun to Ukraine's head."
"So if we're actually going to make progress, we're going to have to see de-escalation, Russia pulling back from the threat that it currently poses to Ukraine," the diplomat said.
Putin: Moscow pursues a peaceful foreign policy
President Vladimir Putin had said earlier this month Moscow pursues a peaceful foreign policy; however, it had the right to defend its security.
Russia has been demanding a written commitment that Ukraine would never be able to join NATO and that the alliance would not place any military equipment in certain countries in the region surrounding Russia.
The Kremlin sees that it is best for Russian security that the alliance does not expand eastward and that Russia does not have any Western military activity in its vicinity.
The West has refused Russia's demands of a guarantee, saying NATO's principle stipulates that membership is open to any qualifying country.
Blinken acknowledged he was not anticipating major breakthroughs in the talks; however, he stressed there were potential punishments awaiting Moscow were it not to engage in diploma\y.
Once again, the top diplomat reiterated the West's threats of sanctions on Russia, as the West has long been threatening Moscow with massive coordinated sanctions if it were to invade Ukraine.
Russia could face severe economic and financial consequences, "as well as NATO almost certainly having to reinforce its position near Russia as well as continuing to provide assistance to Ukraine," Blinken told ABC's This Week.
Blinken: Massive consequences for Russia if Ukraine is invaded
The US diplomat highlighted key allies, such as the G7, the European Union, and NATO, who had "[made] clear there would be massive consequences."
On December 31, US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the rising tensions over Ukraine over a 55-minute phone call.
Following that call, the White House said in a statement President Biden "voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European allies about Russia's escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine."