US Secretary of State Antony Blinken took to the Sunday talk shows to put Moscow on notice after Ukraine's leaders have alleged a nearly unprecedented Russian forces build-up along the border... bigger than any time since 2014.
Blinken said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Russia faces "consequences" if at any point it acts "aggressively" towards Ukraine:
"I have to tell you I have real concerns about Russia's actions on the borders of Ukraine," Blinken warned. "That's why we're in very close contact, in close coordination, with our allies and partners in Europe. All of us share that concern."
"President Biden's been very clear about this. If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences," the secretary of state said further.
But when pressed on potential military options on the table, he responded "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals."
He cited Russian "actions" on the border at a moment of heighted military exercises that's involved the mustering of many thousands of additional troops, far more than normal. Here's more of the Sunday statements in context:
"As we speak right now," Blinken told Todd, "I have to tell you I have real concerns about Russia's actions on the borders of Ukraine. There are more Russian forces massed on those borders than at any time since 2014 when Russia first invaded. That's why we're in very close contact, in close coordination, with our allies and partners in Europe."
He added: "President Biden's been very clear about this. If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences."
The Kremlin on Friday had raised the alarm over the potential for broader military conflict in the region which it blamed on Kiev for intentionally stoking tensions and making 'false' allegations of a Russian planned offensive. The Russians are blaming the Ukrainian side for the renewed outbreak of shooting and shelling in Donbass.
WATCH: Sec. State Blinken has "real concerns about Russia's actions on the borders of Ukraine."@SecBlinken: "The question is, 'Is Russia going to continue to act aggressively and recklessly?' If it does, the president's been clear, there'll be costs, there'll be consequences." pic.twitter.com/Qy0aiBkSK6— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) April 11, 2021
"The escalation of tensions in the southeast of Ukraine justifies the measures Russia is taking," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday. "The trend in the behavior of the Ukrainian side creates the risk of a resumption of full-scale military action."
Just as US media is now hyping a "what next?!" doomsday scenario over Ukraine, it appears (dangerously) some Russian officials are doing the same, as Rabobank described at the end of this past week:
A senior Russian military official yesterday stated the start of major military action in Eastern Ukraine would mark the beginning of the end for the country(!); and a Russian friend gave me an (unconfirmed) report that a TV channel he was watching last night had talking heads suggesting it was necessary to set off a nuclear bomb in the ocean to send a signal to the US --which is about to send naval vessels to the Black Sea-- that they need to back off. One *hopes* this is all quixotic: markets certainly believe that to be the case, and so continue to rally on the new meme of --a lack of-- windmills.
And of course Putin himself has weighed in, charging that it's Ukraine that's engaged in "dangerous provocative actions" against Russian-speaking separatists in the eastern Donbass region. He made the accusation in a phone call Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, emphasizing that Russian troops are merely responding to initial Ukrainian provocations.