QUESTION: Well, first of all, what are the most likely scenarios that could take place on Ukraine-Russian border, and what are the U.S. plans as a response?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question, Dumitru. I wish we could say what is the most likely. What we would hope would happen is that the Russians will respond to our efforts to find a diplomatic solution and de-escalate the situation along the border and not move us into the crisis that we are all planning for and expecting. If that does not happen, what you can expect is that if the Russians cross into Ukraine or take any aggressive actions against Ukraine, we will respond aggressively. They’ve heard that from the President of the United States, they’ve heard it from the Secretary of State, and they’ve heard it from me here in New York.
So we continue to work with them diplomatically. Our hope is that we find a diplomatic solution. But if we are unable to find a diplomatic solution that leads to de-escalation, we will respond to any actions that the Russians should take against Ukraine. And they are aware of those actions. They’ve been informed of what our plans are. Our hope is that we don’t have to go that far.
QUESTION: Well, you mentioned President Biden. He has warned that a military offensive will have serious economic consequences for Russia. Are military countermeasures taken into account as well?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Absolutely. We have indicated that we are not taking anything off the table in terms of our response. But as you may know, we have been working with the Ukrainians since 2014; we’ve provided them with close to $2.7 billion in support for their military. Most recently, during Secretary Blinken’s visit to Ukraine, we announced additional funding, and we will continue to provide equipment to the Ukrainians and we are providing advisory support to the Ukrainians.
QUESTION: What are the expectations from the visit that will be taken tomorrow, the meeting with Mr. Lavrov?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Our hope is that the meeting tomorrow that Secretary Blinken will be having with Foreign Minister Lavrov will lead to finding a way forward to continue to work on a diplomatic solution to this issue. That’s the reason for the meeting. We’ve had more than 100 meetings over the course of the past few months with our diplomatic colleagues to pursue an aggressive diplomatic solution. But if that is not the case, we will make clear to our Russian counterparts that they can expect that we will not sit quietly should they take action against Ukraine.
QUESTION: Would it be there a scenario when the Transnistrian enclave will have a role in this offensive, Russian offensive on Ukraine?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Dumitru, I missed your question. Can you repeat it?
QUESTION: I wonder if the Transnistrian enclave, Moldovan Transnistrian, which is a Russian-controlled territory, if there is a scenario when Russia have plans to transform Transnistria as a whole part of this offensive on Ukraine from the east side – from the west side.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah, we’re watching every single border and engaging with all of Ukraine’s neighbors to assist them in being prepared for any actions that might come from Russia, and we’re watching the Ukrainian border to see where the Russians are taking actions. Right now they have about close to 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, but we’ve seen this playbook before. We don’t know that that’s where they’re going to move from. They may move from some other area. They may use some other tools. But we’re alert to their playbook and we’re prepared.
QUESTION: Thank you very much for answering my questions and for having time to make this interview.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. Thank you so much, Dumitru.