Ukraine urged NATO on Wednesday to prepare economic sanctions on Russia and boost military cooperation with Kyiv as the country joined the Western alliance for talks about how to deter Russia from a renewed attack after massing troops close by.
Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that now aspires to join the European Union and NATO, has become the main flashpoint between Russia and the West as relations have soured to their worst level in the three decades since the Cold War ended, reports Reuters.
"We will call on the allies to join Ukraine in putting together a deterrence package," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on arrival for talks with his NATO counterparts in Riga.
As part of this package, NATO should prepare economic sanctions to be imposed on Russia if it "decides to choose the worst-case scenario", he said, adding it should also boost military and defence cooperation with Ukraine.
On Tuesday, NATO and the United States warned Moscow it would pay a high price for any new military aggression against Ukraine.
"Any future Russian aggression against Ukraine would come at a high price and have serious political and economic consequences for Russia," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after the first day of talks between the 30 allies in Riga.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin countered that Russia would be forced to act if US-led NATO placed missiles in Ukraine that could strike Moscow within minutes.
At a news conference later on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to spell out in more detail what intelligence Washington has about Russia's intentions in Ukraine.
The Kremlin annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then backed rebels fighting government troops in the east of the country. That conflict has killed 14,000 people, according to Kyiv, and is still simmering.