UPER POWER FACEOFF: US says Putin will be making a 'serious mistake' as it warns it is 'looking at ways of dealing' with Lukashenko as UK sends soldiers to Poland after Putin provokes West by deploying troops in Belarus and sending bombers over North Sea
America has warned Vladimir Putin will be making a 'serious mistake' if he invades Ukraine after the Russian president provoked the West by deploying troops in Belarus and sending bombers over the North Sea.
Vice President Kamala Harris said the 'eyes of the world' are on the Belarus border and the US is 'looking at the tools it has' after a day of rapid-fire developments led to fears of war breaking out on Europe's eastern border.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused dictator Alexander Lukashenko of using migration as a political weapon against the EU as Vice President Harris condemned his 'very troubling actions' on Poland's border.
Harris spoke about the situation at a press conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron – after Russia conducted bombing exercises with Belarusian forces and built up troops along its border with Ukraine – prompting the US to assert its 'ironclad' commitment to Ukrainian security.
'On the issue of Belarus and what is happening at the border with Poland, we are very concerned about that and closely paying attention to it,' she said. She also gave a warning to President Alexander Lukashenko's government.
'The Lukashenko regime, I believe is engaged in very troubling activity. It is something that I discussed with President Macron, and the eyes of the world and its leaders are watching what is happening there,' she said.
Defiant apparatchiks in Minsk hit back, as Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin accused western nations of trying to 'initiate conflict' using 'ultimatums, threats and blackmail' while vowing to 'respond harshly to any attacks'.
It comes after Russia and Belarus held snap paratrooper drills just 20 miles from a border crossing where thousands of migrants are gathered, saying it was to 'test the readiness' of their troops, at the same time as two Russian bombers flew close to the UK - with RAF Typhoons scrambled to escort them.
A 'small' detachment of British troops, thought to be from Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, were also deployed to the Polish border to help beef up the defences, the Ministry of Defence confirmed.
French ministers warned their Russian counterparts of 'serious consequences' if Ukraine is invaded and called on the Kremlin to re-open dialogue with Kiev.
But Kremin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed those allegations, saying that Russia 'doesn't threaten anyone' while describing fears of an attack on Ukraine as a 'hollow and unfounded attempt to incite tensions'.
Peskov also claimed that Russia needed to protect its security against 'increasing provocations' near its borders.
He pointed at the US naval deployment to the Black Sea and increasingly frequent US and NATO intelligence flights. 'We take measures to ensure our security when our opponents take defiant action near our borders,' Peskov said. 'We can't stay indifferent to that; we must be on our guard.'