U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Kyiv and Berlin on Jan. 18-20.
Blinken will first visit Kyiv, where he will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Jan. 19, to reaffirm the United States' support for Ukraine as Russia is threatening to further invade it.
According to the U.S. State Department, Blinken will also meet employees and families of the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss "potential contingencies, should Russia choose to escalate further."
Blinken will then travel to Germany to meet with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. The two will discuss efforts to halt Russian aggression -- specifically, the willingness of European allies to impose severe sanctions should Russia escalate the situation. Baerbock visited Kyiv on Jan. 17, and Moscow on Jan. 18.
"The secretary’s travel and consultations are part of the diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the tension caused by Russia’s military buildup and continued aggression against Ukraine," said Ned Price, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.
Russia continues to carry out regular military drills and maneuvers as tensions run high in the region, with over 100,000 Russian troops concentrated close to Ukraine’s border.
The massive buildup, accompanied by the Kremlin’s warlike rhetoric and aggressive demands towards NATO and the U.S. triggered serious concerns and fears of a large-scale military action against Ukraine.
As tensions rise, several high-ranking diplomats from the U.S., Canada, and Germany have visited Kyiv on Jan. 17.
Yet, the West has failed to present a unified stance, as allies struggle to agree on which economic sanctions should be implemented and what aid should be provided to Ukraine.
Germany has stood by its decision to not allow military assistance. Meanwhile, U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace announced that his country will provide Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to boost Kyiv's security amid escalating threats.
High-level negotiations between Russia and the West, held between Jan. 10-12, failed to yield results. Blinken expressed concerns over whether Russia truly intends to reach a diplomatic solution or whether it is attempting to create a situation where Russia can "justify" its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
On Jan. 18, the Defense Ministry of Belarus announced that Russia deployed military divisions to Belarus, allegedly as a part of joint training exercises.
for an independent Ukraine