Ukraine Worried About 'Panic' in the West

US defense chief urges Putin to back away from a confict
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2022 2:00 PM CST
Pentagon Pressures Russia to Walk Away
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listens to a reporter's question Friday at the Pentagon.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin joined the list Friday of political and military leaders around the world urging Russia to turn away from a fight at the Ukraine border. "There's no reason that this situation has to devolve into conflict," Austin said, per the Hill, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin still has a choice. "He can choose to deescalate; he can order his troops away. He can choose dialogue and diplomacy." Russia has been massing arms and troops at the Ukraine border, as well as deploying its navy in the Mediterranean and north Atlantic. Austin said that he doesn't think Putin has decided on his next move but that he has the strength now to attack Ukraine.

All these warnings that an attack could happen at any minute don't thrill Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. One of his concerns is the effect on the nation's economy, the BBC reports. "There are signals even from respected leaders of states, they just say that tomorrow there will be war," Zelensky said at a press conference. "This is panic—how much does it cost for our state?" He said the US, UK, and Australia made a mistake when they pulled the families of their diplomats out of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said again on Friday that his country doesn't want war, per CNN. Zelensky said the biggest threat to Ukraine now is "the destabilization of the situation inside the country."

A new threat to Russia, should it cross the border, surfaced Friday. The US is planning sanctions against large banks that could cause more problems for Russia than any economic penalties ever have, per the New York Times. Enforcing what's called extreme sanctions could prevent US financial institutions and Americans from doing business with Russian banks. That could suspend Russian banks' interactions with foreign financial institutions. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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