Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Ukraine and warns Russia the US will respond if it acts 'recklessly'

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Blinken Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Efrem Lukatsky/Getty Images
  • Blinken on Thursday warned Russia the US will respond if it behaves "recklessly."

  • The warning came as Blinken visited Ukraine as a show of support against Russian aggression.

  • Russia recently amassed roughly 100,000 troops on Ukraine's borders.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today Program on Thursday warned Russia that the US "will respond" if it behaves "recklessly."

The top US diplomat said the US was zeroing in on Russian actions such as the SolarWinds hack, election interference, and the treatment of Alexei Navalny - Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic. The Biden administration has issured sanctions against Russia over all of these matters, as part of an escalating diplomatic tit-for-tat between the two countries.

Blinken also added that the US prefers "a more stable and predictable relationship" with Russia.

"If Russia chooses that path, there are areas where we can cooperate in our mutual interest," Blinken said.

Blinken's comments came during a trip to Europe, including a visit to Ukraine to demonstrate US support against Russian aggression.

Russia recently amassed roughly 100,000 troops along Ukraine's eastern border and in Crimea, sparking fears of an invasion. But in late April, Russia abruptly announced it would begin withdrawing troops from the border.

Russia
Units of Russian mountain air assault division hold exercise in Crimea in March 2021. Sergei Malgavko/Getty Images

Blinken in Kiev on Thursday said the US is still monitoring the situation closely, given not all Russian troops have been withdrawn.

"Russia has pulled back some forces, but significant forces remain on Ukraine's border," Blinken said during a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, per the New York Times. "And so Russia has the capacity on fairly short notice to take aggressive actions if it so chooses." The US is watching this space "very, very carefully."

Tensions between the US and Russia have reached historic heights in recent years, largely stemming from Putin's unilateral annexation of Crimea in 2014 as well as Russian election interference. An ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Kremlin-backed rebels in the eastern Donbass region has exacerbated the contentious dynamic. The war has claimed over 13,000 lives.

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President Joe Biden has taken a far more critical tone toward Russia than former President Donald Trump, who often showered Putin with praise and once controversially appeared to side with the Russian president over the US intelligence community.

With US-Russia relations at such a low point, Biden and Putin have both expressed a willingness to hold a summit in the near future. Biden first proposed such a summit during an April phone call with Putin. And it appears the two could meet when Biden takes his first trip abroad as president in June.

Biden is set to visit the UK for a G7 summit followed by a visit to Brussels for EU talks and a NATO summit. Nothing is set in stone, but Austria, Czech Republic, and Finland have all offered to host the potential Biden-Putin summit.

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