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Kristina Kvien has a lot on her hands. She’s the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, or chargé d'affaires. She’s been staying on top of the crisis created by Russia deploying some 130,000 troops near the country. That carries with it the implicit threat of invasion if Moscow doesn’t get its way.
"It’s a concerning situation," she told Fox News, "because we’ve also seen very strong rhetoric from the Russians, and we have also seen their demands."
In the last few days, she’s been in charge of lowering the U.S. diplomatic profile in Kyiv, arranging for the evacuation of families of embassy workers as well as some non-essential employees. It’s been branded by the Ukrainian government as premature. The acting ambassador stands by it."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that “I hope that we will eventually find a solution" to the Ukraine conflict, "although we realize that it's not going to be easy," according to the Associated Press.
Putin speculated that Ukraine becoming a member of NATO could lead to a scenario where Ukraine launches a military attack to reclaim control of Crimea in the country's east, which is currently occupied by Russian-backed separatists, the AP also reported.
“Imagine that Ukraine becomes a NATO member and launches those military operations,” Putin said. “Should we fight NATO then? Has anyone thought about it?”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a call Tuesday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, "further reiterated the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the right of all countries to determine their own foreign policy and alliances," according to the State Department.
"The Secretary urged immediate Russian de-escalation and the withdrawal of troops and equipment from Ukraine’s borders," their statement added. "He emphasized that further invasion of Ukraine would be met with swift and severe consequences and urged Russia to pursue a diplomatic path."
In his first comments on the standoff with the West over Ukraine in more than a month, Putin said the Kremlin is still studying the U.S. and NATO's response to the Russian security demands they received last week.
Those demands include a guarantee from NATO that it will not expand to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations, refrain from deploying offensive weapons near Russia and for NATO to roll back deployments to Eastern Europe.
Putin told reporters in Moscow following a meeting with Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban that "it’s already clear and I said to the prime minister that Russian concerns were basically ignored – we didn’t see an adequate response to our key concerns.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Biden administration is working with Ukraine to "harden" its cyber defenses as it warns cyberattacks could be part of a "broad-based Russian effort" to "destabilize" and further invade the country, senior administration officials told Fox News.
As part of the effort, Anne Neuberger, the White House deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, is traveling to Europe Tuesday to engage with U.S. allies in an effort to elevate cybersecurity as a "top-tier priority" at NATO and with international partners.
Neuberger is set to travel to Brussels to meet with her EU counterparts and consult with NATO on ways to "enhance national and Alliance resilience in cyberspace, including deterring, disrupting, and responding to further Russian aggression against Ukraine, neighboring states, and in our respective countries," a senior administration official told Fox News in previewing her trip.
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Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted Tuesday that his country has received about "500 tons of defense equipment" from the U.S.
"The day hasn’t passed yet and we’re unloading the 6th bird from our friends from the U.S.! 84 tons of ammunition arrived in Kyiv!" he wrote.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, responding to the tweet, wrote "we vastly prefer the path of dialogue and diplomacy, but we will continue to provide Ukraine the defensive assistance needed to defend against Russia's massive military force assembled on its borders."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Tuesday morning over the Ukraine crisis.
“We expect the Secretary will have an opportunity to speak by phone with Foreign Minister Lavrov tomorrow morning," a State Department official had told Fox News Digital on Monday.
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, is expected to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday and promise him that the United Kingdom will uphold his country’s sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression, according to a report.
Reuters reported that Johnson released the remarks prior to the meeting. Johnson urged Russia to “step back” and engage in dialogue to find a “diplomatic resolution.”
“As a friend and a democratic partner, the UK will continue to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of those who seek to destroy it,” he said.
Johnson did not elaborate on the lengths he would go to defend the country’s existence—and whether that would include a military response to Russia.
Moscow has insisted that is has no intention of invading its neighbor, but has been clear that it believes NATO’s expansion threatens its security.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, said Sunday that the Alliance has no plans to deploy troops to Ukraine if Russia invades. He has pointed out in the past that there is a distinction between NATO allies and partners.
Ukraine is a NATO partner and not an ally. Under NATO’s Article 5, which looks at an attack against one ally as an attack against all allies.
"We have no plans to deploy NATO combat troops to Ukraine ... we are focusing on providing support," he told the BBC, according to Reuters. "There is a difference between being a NATO member and being a strong and highly valued partner as Ukraine. There's no doubt about that." -Edmund DeMarche
The Biden administration has developed "specific sanctions packages" for Russian elites and their family members if Moscow invades Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
During the White House press briefing Monday, Psaki told reporters that the specific sanctions efforts are "being pursued in coordination with allies and partners."
"The individuals we’ve identified are near the inner circle of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision-making or, at a minimum, are complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior," Psaki explained, noting that "many of these invidious are particularly vulnerable targets because of their deep and financial ties with the West." -- Brooke Singman
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