Russia has only two options with Ukraine, top US official in Kyiv says : NPR
KYIV, Ukraine – It’s hard to imagine higher stakes than now for the US charge d’affaires, who is currently the most senior US official on the ground in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
This week, with her eyes glued to the Russian border, Kristina Kvien juggles fellow diplomats and visiting members of Congress.
His current estimate is that Russian President Vladimir Putin has more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, and that number is growing.
“The buildup is continuing. It’s not proceeding at a rapid pace, but it’s proceeding at a steady pace,” Kvien told NPR. All things Considered.
When asked how concerned she was about the prospect of an imminent invasion, Kvien’s response was simple: “We are very concerned.”
“First of all, the number of troops and equipment the Russians have on the border could allow them to make some sort of incursion at any time,” she said. “So when President Biden says action is imminent, it’s because there’s enough now to do some kind of action.”
Kvien is convinced that if this were to happen, the Ukrainian army would fight a serious battle. They are well trained, well equipped and highly motivated, she says.
“Ukrainians in general and the Ukrainian army are very patriotic. They love Ukraine. They are ready to fight to save it. And I foresee that they will and they will do it with great vigor.”
While the situation appears to be at an impasse, with the United States firmly refusing Russia’s demand that Ukraine would never be allowed to join NATO, Kvien still hopes that a diplomatic solution is on the table.
The choice remains with Russia, she said.
“They have two paths they can take. The first, which is obviously the one we and the Ukrainians very much prefer, is the path of diplomacy and discussion. The other path is the path of Russian aggression. And make no mistake, if Russia takes the path of aggression, it will immediately face extremely serious consequences.”
“We have a set of sanctions and export controls in place that would have a very serious impact on the Russian economy, and we will implement them as soon as Russia takes aggressive action against Ukraine.”
That’s a message two visiting US congressmen can get across.
Gregory Meeks, DN.Y., and Mark Green, R-Tenn., are both members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and are based in Kyiv.
They say that while sanctions – and whether they are implemented before or after an invasion – remain an ongoing discussion, what is most important now is unity between Ukraine and its allies.
“Because the way Putin wins is if he can divide us,” Meeks said. “He would like to divide some of our NATO allies and some of our EU allies, and the Ukrainians, to divide us on this issue, that would be a win for him. So we cannot allow that to happen. “
Green agreed and said the math for the United States was easy.
“[Putin] put troops on the border of a NATO ally. And that’s a game-changer for me. … We are obliged to find a diplomatic solution here as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” he said.
As for what to look for next, Kvien said the United States is preparing for any moves and waiting to hear from Putin himself.
“When you take information from Russia, frankly, it’s President Putin you have to listen to, and he hasn’t spoken yet, so we’re waiting for him to speak,” she said. . “We hope he chooses a diplomatic route. If he does, I think we can talk about a lot of things.”