US warns of 'massive consequences' if Russia invades Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned of “massive consequences” in the event of any Russian military incursion into Ukraine, or any hybrid attacks on the country.

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Thursday afternoon, Blinken said their aim was to seek a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions caused by Russia amassing troops on Ukraine’s borders.

“We have been very clear throughout, if any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border and commit new acts of aggression against Ukraine, that will be met with a swift and severe united response from the United States and our allies and partners,” Blinken said.

Blinken said that Russia has “a lot of tools in its playbook, some of them short of military action” and referred to hybrid attacks designed to undermine democracy or foment unrest or panic.

He said that allies would mount a coordinated response against Russia.

“We are at a decisive junction. We cannot choose the path for Moscow, but we can make crystal clear the stark consequences of that choice. Positive on the one hand if we pursue dialogue and diplomacy, but very negative on the other hand if Russia chooses the path of aggression,” Blinken said.

He hinted that Germany could use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as leverage against Russia.

“It’s also worth noting that gas is not flowing through Norstream 2 yet, which is leverage for Germany, the United States and our allies, not Russia,” Blinken said.

“That’s undoubtedly something that Moscow is weighing as it considers its next move particularly given the strong statements countries have made about the serious consequences Russia will face if it commits further aggression against Ukraine.”

Blinken’s trip started on Wednesday in Ukraine where he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. On Friday he will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.

Blinken’s comments come after US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he thinks Russia will invade Ukraine.

Biden warned President Vladimir Putin that his country would pay a “dear price” in lives lost and a possible cut off from the global banking system if it does.

Biden, speaking at a news conference to mark his one-year anniversary in office, also said a “minor incursion” by Russia would elicit a lesser response.

He later sought to clarify that he was referring to a non-military action, such as a cyberattack, that would be met with a similar reciprocal response, and that if Russian forces cross the Ukrainian border, killing Ukrainian fighters, “that changes everything.”