Top US diplomat vowed a swift response should Russia ?invade? Ukraine in ?any form?
The US has some 18 ?different scenarios? up its sleeve to react to Moscow invading its neighbor, Victoria Nuland has said, promising to inflict 'sharp pain? on Russia should it make such a move.
Nuland, who currently serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Joe Biden administration, made a thinly-veiled threat against Moscow in an interview with the Financial Times published on Saturday.
"I'm not going to preview 18 different scenarios . . . I would simply say that our commitment and the conversation that we have with our allies is around inflicting very sharp pain very fast, if Russia makes this move in any form," Nuland said.
Western media, as well as multiple US officials have repeatedly warned of a supposedly imminent "invasion" of Ukraine by Russia over the past few months. Washington and its allies have cited the movement of Russian troops within the country's own territory in the relative vicinity of its border with Ukraine as 'proof' of such plans. Moscow has consistently denied allegations that it was about to invade its neighbor, insisting it was in its right to carry out military maneuvers within its borders as it pleases.
Nuland failed to specify any of the multiple scenarios she hinted at in the interview. At the same time, the official said the US was still open to dialog with Moscow, while revealing that Washington has been working on a written response to the comprehensive security deal draft proposed by Moscow.
"We want to keep talking," Nuland said. "We believe that it needs to be done on the basis of reciprocity - namely, they're going to have grievances but we have concerns, too."
The official also touched upon a massive cyber attack, reported by Ukrainian government agencies on Friday. While avoiding blaming Russia for the attack directly, she suggested Moscow might have had its hand in it, citing the allegations of involvement of state-backed "Russian hackers" in similar incidents worldwide.
"I'm not ready to share anything on attribution at the moment. I would simply say that this is a tried and true part of the Russian playbook, as you know, all around the world," Nuland stated. "In the past, Russian operatives have done this to destabilize governments, to test their own capabilities, to undercut the sense of confidence of governments that they have gripes with. So anything is possible here."
Nuland is probably best-known in Russia for her involvement in the 2013 Maidan events in Ukraine, that ultimately led to the establishment of the current regime in Kiev, setting stage for an ongoing conflict between the government in Kiev and the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the country's east. During Maidan protests, Nuland was seen handing out cookies to demonstrators, with Moscow condemning her actions as direct interference with the crisis.