The US now says "all options" are on the table in response to an alleged Russian troop build-up near its border with Ukraine. Top officials are set to meet with NATO next week to decide what further steps to take, according to Reuters.
"As you can appreciate, all options are on the table and there’s a toolkit that includes a whole range of options," the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Karen Donfried, told reporters Friday.
Widespread media reports in the West have for more than a past week been warning that about 100,000 Russian troops are mustered near Ukraine's eastern border, poised for an invasion, as an initial Nov.11 Bloomberg story headlined. The Kremlin has repeatedly slammed this as disinformation and part of manufactured attempts at ramping up political pressure against Moscow.
"It's now for the alliance to decide what are the next moves that NATO wants to take," Donfried said. "Next week, we will talk about our assessment of what's happening on Russia's border with Ukraine and we will begin that conversation of what are the options that are on the table and what it is that NATO as an alliance would like to do together," she added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to be in Latvia Monday for the NATO foreign ministerial meeting - this after some sharp words from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who warned Russia on Friday, "If Russia uses force against Ukraine that will have costs, that would have consequences."
However, there's been agreement on all sides that a de-escalation of tensions is urgently needed, though Washington's "all options on the table" rhetoric likely isn't helping, given the phrase in the past has basically pointed to the military option.
"We will give a worthy response to the enemy."— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 26, 2021
Hands on his machinegun, a Ukrainian soldier looks towards the positions of pro-Russian separatists and insists he is ready if Moscow decides to send troops across the borderhttps://t.co/Ysi3DAzuE3
Earlier this month Blinken put words to both Kiev and Washington's worst fears amid the Russian troop movement and build-up reports: "Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming — falsely — that it was provoked," he said previously.