Biden administration officials reiterated on Sunday that the United States believed a Russian invasion was “imminent,” despite Ukraine’s recent downplaying of the crisis. “We have been nothing but clear and transparent about our concerns here at the Pentagon over the rapid buildup for the last few months around the border with Ukraine and in Belarus,” the Pentagon’s press secretary, John F. Kirby, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Understand Russia’s Relationship With the West
The tension between the regions is growing and Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly willing to take geopolitical risks and assert his demands.
For U.S. lawmakers, there is “an incredibly strong bipartisan resolve to have severe consequences for Russia if it invades Ukraine, and in some cases for what it has already done,” said Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appearing with the committee’s top Republican, Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Mr. Menendez said that legislation under discussion was “expected to include a variety of elements — massive sanctions against the most significant Russian banks, crippling to their economy, meaningful in terms of consequences to the average Russian and their accounts and pensions, more lethal assistance to Ukraine.”
Sanctions, though, were not Mr. Lavrov’s focus on Sunday — NATO was.
Through the Russian Foreign Ministry, he said, an official request was sent on Sunday to both NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a European security alliance of which Russia is a member, “with an urgent demand to explain how they intend to fulfill their obligation not to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others.”
“If they do not intend to, then they must explain why,” Mr. Lavrov added. “This will be the key question in determining our further proposals, which we will report to Russia’s president,” he said.
While Mr. Lavrov did not indicate what specific issue in the NATO response was unclear, the Kremlin has been highly critical of NATO’s so-called open-door policy of granting membership to former Communist bloc countries without taking Russia’s security concerns into account. In his remarks, Mr. Lavrov reiterated a frequent Kremlin complaint that NATO, in the years since the Soviet collapse, had crept ever closer to Russia’s border.