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Blinken warns U.S. will respond to Russia aggression, take steps 'refrained' from in the past

The whole international system is "at stake," Blinken said, amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses a press conference in Stockholm on Dec. 2, 2021.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses a press conference in Stockholm on Dec. 2, 2021.Jonathan Nackstrand / Pool via Reuters file

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is prepared to take greater steps to respond to Russia aggression after President Joe Biden's phone call last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"What the president made very clear to President Putin, what I've been very clear to Foreign Minister [Sergey V.] Lavrov, my counterpart, is that we are looking at and we are prepared to take the kinds of steps we've refrained from taking in the past that would have massive consequences for Russia," Blinken said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

In a two-hour video call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin that the U.S. would seek "strong economic measures" and increase military aid to allies in the region should Russia invade its neighbor. Biden also said the U.S. would provide additional defense materials to Ukraine and build up military capabilities in other countries that border Russia.

Biden reaffirmed U.S support for Ukraine in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday, vowing that the U.S. and its European allies would mount a strong response should Russia launch a military offensive.

Blinken appeared on "Meet the Press" in a video call from Liverpool, England, where he is currently attending the G-7 meeting with British foreign minister Liz Truss, the European Union as well as foreign ministers from France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada.

The foreign ministers are "equally resolute in their determination to stand against Russian aggression to ideally deter it, prevent it, and we've made clear as well that there would be massive consequences if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression against Ukraine," Blinken said.

After Putin moved more than 90,000 troops to the Ukrainian border, Biden administration officials have said they believe Russia might engage in military action, but that it remains unclear whether a decision has been made.

"There's something even bigger at stake here," Blinken said. "And it's the basic rules of the road of the international system. Rules that say that one country can't change the borders of another by force. One country can't dictate to another country its choices, its decisions and its foreign policy with whom it will associate, one country can't exert a sphere of influence over others."