US President Joe Biden declared “total” unity among Western powers on Monday after crisis talks with European leaders on deterring Russia from an attack against Ukraine, while the Pentagon said that 8,500 US troops were put on standby for possible deployment to boost NATO.
“I had a very, very, very good meeting — total unanimity with all the European leaders,” Biden told reporters shortly after finishing a 1 hour, 20 minute videoconference with allied leaders from Europe and NATO.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “It is up to Russia to undertake visible de-escalation,” while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenber warned of “severe costs” if there is “any further aggression” by Moscow against Ukraine.
Also on the call were the leaders of France, Italy, Poland and the EU.
Despite insisting he has no intention of attacking, Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed about 100,000 troops close to Ukraine.
Moscow is demanding a guarantee that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, never be allowed to join NATO, but the US and NATO have rejected the Russian demands and told Putin to withdraw from Ukraine’s borders.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that a force of up to 8,500 US troops was on “heightened alert” for potential deployment to reinforce any activation of the NATO Response Force in the region, where there are growing fears of spillover from the Ukraine conflict.
“What this is about ... is reassurance to our NATO allies,” Kirby said. “It sends a very clear signal to Mr Putin that we take our responsibilities to NATO seriously.”
NATO also said it was sending jets and ships to bolster its eastern flank.
The tension helped fuel instability in global markets, while Russia’s main stock index plunged and the central bank suspended foreign-currency purchasing after the ruble slumped.
The French government announced that Russian and Ukrainian officials would meet, along with their French and German counterparts, in Paris today to try to find a way out of the impasse.
Yesterday, British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss said that she would visit Ukraine next week.
“I’ll be visiting Ukraine next week,” Truss told the British parliament.
“A further military incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake and come with a severe cost on Russia’s economy, including coordinated sanctions,” she said.
Yesterday, Ukraine said that it had dismantled saboteurs controlled by Moscow who were preparing a series of attacks in Ukraine’s border regions to “destabilize” the situation.
The men were planning a “series of armed attacks” on city infrastructure, Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, said in a statement, adding that the group was “coordinated by Russian special services.”
The SBU said it arrested two residents of Ukraine, one of them a Russian citizen, and seized “an explosive device, small arms and ammunition.”
The two acted in Kharkov, a city with 1 million people located near the Russian border in the east, and in the town of Zhytomyr in central Ukraine, under the pretext of recruiting personnel for a private security firm, the SBU added.
A source in law enforcement said that the two men were former commandos with combat experience and were recruiting “mainly” Russians who had already committed violent crimes.
Additional reporting by Reuters
The US Department of State yesterday criticized Beijing over its misrepresentation of the US’ “one China” policy in the latest diplomatic salvo between the two countries over a bid by Taiwan to regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO. “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter. “The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and
FATES LINKED: The US president said that sanctions on Russia over Ukraine must exact a ‘long-term price,’ because otherwise ‘what signal does that send to China?’ US President Joe Biden yesterday vowed that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack in his strongest statement to date on the issue. Beijing is already “flirting with danger,” Biden said following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and joint Chinese-Russian exercises. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: “Yes.” “That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said. “We agreed with the ‘one China’ policy, we signed on to it ... but the idea that it can be
INFORMATION LEAKED: Documents from Xinjiang purportedly showed top leaders in Beijing calling for a forceful crackdown and even orders to shoot to kill Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday held a videoconference with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet as she visited Xinjiang during a mission overshadowed by fresh allegations of Uighur abuses and fears she is being used as a public relations tool. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been accused of detaining more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region as part of a years-long crackdown the US and lawmakers in other Western nations have labeled a “genocide.” China denies the allegations. Bachelet was expected to visit the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on a six-day tour. The US
SUBTLE? While Biden said the US policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan had not changed, the group targeted China and Russia without naming them Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US yesterday warned against attempts to “change the status quo by force,” as concerns grow about whether China could invade Taiwan. The issue of Taiwan loomed over a leadership meeting in Tokyo of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) nations — the US, Japan, Australia and India — who stressed their determination to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China, although Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was not targeting any one country. The four leaders said in a joint statement issued after their talks