The Ukraine crisis in the Security Council today.. Possible US sanctions on Moscow and NATO announces its position on deploying forces to confront Russia

The United Nations Security Council will hold a session on the Ukraine crisis on Monday at the request of the United States, which along with its NATO allies is intensifying its efforts to discourage Moscow from invading Ukraine, as Washington prepares to impose new sanctions on Russia.

It is possible that Russia will try to prevent the 15 members of the Security Council from holding the meeting, despite Washington’s assertion of the “unity” of council members over the crisis with Ukraine.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, said that the Security Council meeting today, Monday, on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis represents a new opportunity to find a diplomatic way out for Moscow, adding that Moscow continues to escalate despite Washington’s efforts to resolve the crisis.

The upcoming meeting comes at a time when the United States has accused Russia of further escalation by amassing more troops on Ukraine’s borders, while congressional lawmakers are preparing a “huge sanctions” package for Moscow.

The American position

On Sunday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that Russia continues to build up its forces on the border with Ukraine.

Kirby added – during an interview with “Fox News” – that Russian President Vladimir Putin has many options for invading Ukraine, and he can implement them imminently.

He added that his country and NATO will strengthen their defense and military capabilities in Eastern Europe, stressing that Washington still believes that there is room for diplomacy with Russia over Ukraine.

US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also said that Putin has moved more troops even after Washington’s call for de-escalation, referring to a possible phone call between Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, this week.

Nuland added that her country had received signals that Russia was interested in discussing proposals submitted by the United States and NATO to resolve the crisis.

Washington and the West are concerned about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Moscow massing about 100,000 soldiers on the border (Reuters)

The United States, Western countries and Ukraine accuse Russia of deploying about 100,000 soldiers and large numbers of mechanisms and missile systems, including the S-400 system, near its western borders, in preparation for attacking it.

But Moscow denies this, and considers it just Western propaganda, and accuses Kiev – in return – of preparing a military operation against the separatists loyal to Moscow in the Donbas region (eastern Ukraine).

In contrast to the Russian buildup, Ukraine has mobilized some of its forces, and started training them on modern weapons, including anti-armor missiles it obtained from Britain, and for weeks it has been training civilians to use weapons in anticipation of a confrontation with the Russians.

‘Huge’ penalties

Parallel to US accusations of Moscow continuing to escalate, The Wall Street Journal reported that bipartisan lawmakers in the US Senate are close to agreeing on a law to impose a package of economic sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine.

The Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, said – in an interview with “CNN” (CNN) on Sunday – that the two parties are determined that the consequences for Russia will be severe if it invades Ukraine.

Menendez talked about sanctions targeting the largest Russian banks (Reuters)

Menendez added that lawmakers are currently working to build on two draft resolutions that include massive sanctions against Russia’s most important banks for crippling the economy.

US President Joe Biden had threatened Russia with harsh sanctions if it attacked its western neighbor.

No sending of troops

In another development, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that his country will propose, during a meeting of NATO military leaders next week, to strengthen NATO’s military presence in Europe, through a wide military deployment of the alliance’s forces and military equipment.

Johnson said he had ordered the British military to prepare to deploy forces in Europe next week to support NATO allies by land, sea and air.

The British Prime Minister described the situation on the Ukrainian border with Russia as worrying, and urged Russia to avoid what he described as a reckless and disastrous invasion of Ukraine.

In turn, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that the top priority now is to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine, stressing that she does not rule out any option at all when it comes to military support for Kiev.

Truss ruled out sending British forces to fight in Ukraine, and said that her country’s government would introduce new legislation to expand the scope of sanctions that it could apply to Russia to deter it from any aggression against Ukraine, noting that additional sanctions could include Russian financial institutions, energy companies and close to the Kremlin.

In parallel with US and British statements about strengthening NATO capabilities in Eastern Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated on Sunday that the alliance has no plans to deploy forces in Ukraine if a Russian invasion occurs.

Stoltenberg’s comments came a day after NATO launched military exercises in Estonia that will continue until February 9.

The Biden administration, in turn, ruled out sending troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, but it put thousands of soldiers on alert in anticipation of sending them to Eastern Europe in the event that NATO activates its rapid intervention force.

diplomatic movement

Meanwhile, in parallel with the military build-up in Eastern Europe, diplomatic action continues to prevent a possible war between Ukraine and Russia.

British Foreign and Defense Ministers Liz Truss and Ben Wallace are scheduled to travel to Moscow for talks with their Russian counterparts.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his German counterpart Annalina Birbock also announced that they would visit Kiev on February 7 and 8.

Birbock said that Paris and Berlin are working to defuse the military escalation within the framework of the so-called “Normandy” formula, which includes Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine.

In Kiev, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that if Moscow was serious that it did not want a war, it should withdraw its forces massed near the border.

In the midst of the current tensions, the Canadian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that it will temporarily withdraw its non-essential staff from its embassy in Ukraine.

On the ground, the pro-Russian separatists announced that the Ukrainian army continued to reinforce its forces in the seam areas, and its soldiers violated the ceasefire 3 times during the past 24 hours.

The separatists accused the Ukrainian army of firing shells at 3 villages near the line of contact southwest of Donetsk, and announced that a civilian was wounded by sniper fire.

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