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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that a nomination for the ambassador to Ukraine would be “forthcoming very shortly” – amid growing fears of a Russian incursion into the U.S. ally.
At a press conference alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Blinken was asked why, a year into the Biden administration, there has not been a nomination for an ambassador to Ukraine.
RUSSIA SENDS MORE TROOPS WESTWARD AMID TENSIONS WITH UKRAINE
“I can tell you that when an ambassador is nominated, that person will have the full confidence of the president of the United States, that person will be someone that is well known to me and with whom I have a close relationship, and that person will have very demonstrable expertise and knowledge in this region,” he said. “And I would anticipate that a nomination will be forthcoming very shortly.
Blinken visited Kyiv at a time of increased tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, with signs that Russia might be planning to invade.
Blinken said Russia has “ratcheted up its threats and amassed nearly 100,000 forces on Ukraine’s border, which it could double on relatively short order.” He underscored what he called a “steadfast commitment” to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to remove the forces from the border
A series of talks last week between Russia, the U.S. and NATO failed to ease the tensions over Ukraine and Russia has been moving troops for war games in Belarus – with Ukraine warning that Russia could launch an attack from multiple directions.
BLINKEN TO VISIT UKRAINE AMID RISING TENSIONS WITH RUSSIA
Blinken is due to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later this week as part of the diplomatic effort to stop another war in Europe. Blinken will also be traveling to Berlin to meet with European allies ahead of the meeting with Lavrov.
Russia has called on the U.S. to ban Ukraine from ever joining NATO and to reduce the military presence in Eastern Europe – the U.S. has dismissed those demands. Moscow has also said it can deploy its forces wherever it wants to within its own borders.
Amid the tensions, the Biden administration has announced an additional $200 million in military aid to the European ally.
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Kuleba, meanwhile, expressed thanks for the U.S. support and confidence that it could overcome the threat posed by Moscow.
“While we understand all the risks that are associated with aggression of the Russian Federation, we have to be confident that we would be able to overcome this very hard period in our history,” he said. “And I know we will survive it too. “