US warns Russia of 'serious consequences' in response to troop movements

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The U.S. on Tuesday warned of "serious consequences" if Russia escalates the conflict in Ukraine, sending a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin as he continues to mobilize troops on the border of his neighboring country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with NATO officials in Riga, Latvia, where they discussed the Russian troop buildup at the northern and eastern Ukrainian border, which many fear could spark a conflict in a region already battered by war since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Blinken told reporters on Tuesday that "any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences," according to Reuters.

"Any escalatory actions by Russia would be a great concern to the United States," he said at a news conference before the meeting in Riga. "We will be consulting closely with NATO allies and partners in the days ahead ... about whether there are other steps that we should take as an alliance to strengthen our defenses, strengthen our resilience, strengthen our capacity."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also warned Russia against escalating any conflict in Ukraine.

"There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independence of the nation," he said, according to Reuters.

Since Russian-backed separatist groups annexed Crimea, Ukraine has clashed with the Russian rebels in a longstanding war that has caused the death of more than 10,000 civilians, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

In May, around 100,000 Russian troops were reported at the border near Yelnya, sparking fears of an escalation in the war. Moscow has dismissed those reports as "false."

A number of European countries have raised concern with the troop buildup, including England and Germany. In the U.S., officials have discussed sending missiles and heavy antitank weaponry to the country.

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