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Ukraine criticized Germany for its stance on Russia, Blinken defends Berlin
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday that he had "no doubt" about Germany's determination to confront Russia after Berlin drew outrage in Ukraine over its refusal to supply Kiev with weapons.
The top US diplomat maintained his belief in unity among Washington's allies, saying any Russian aggression against Ukraine would face a "harsh" response.
"If a single additional Russian force goes to Ukraine in an aggressive way ... it would provoke a swift, tough response from us and from Europe, " Blinken said in an interview.
However, the German government is under pressure to reaffirm its commitment to Russia. Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned Russia against the "high costs" that any military aggression would bring.
But he balanced the comment by calling for "wisdom" when weighing possible sanctions, warning of "consequences" for Germany, Europe's largest economy.
Ukraine has been irritated by comments made by two senior German figures in recent days. Declaring the idea that Russia could invade Ukraine as an "absurdity" and assessing that President Putin "probably deserves" respect, the German navy chief sparked outrage.
The resignation of Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach on Saturday night, 24 hours after the comments he himself described as "well thought out", Kiev's irritation remains strong.
This was exacerbated by Berlin's refusal to hand over weapons to Ukraine, which German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said would not help ease border tensions with Russia. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Germany's stance risked "encouraging Putin" to launch an attack on his country.
In contrast, the US, UK and the Baltic states have all announced that they are sending weapons to the former Soviet republic.