Baerbock, the top diplomat in the first German government in 16 years not headed by Angela Merkel, has struck a tougher tone on Russia than her predecessor. She has warned that Moscow will pay a “high political and economic price” if it makes any militaristic moves against Ukraine.

In a display of unity, the Biden administration and its European allies are beginning a series of meetings aimed at showing Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would be met with a forceful response, AP reports.

Using virtually identical language, the U.S. and its European allies have several times in the past month issued joint and individual messages advising Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country will face “massive consequences” and “severe costs” if he goes ahead with further military intervention in Ukraine.

Yet the severity of the response hinges largely on Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and a diplomatic heavyweight within the 27-nation European Union. Potential actions — be they economic, diplomatic or political — will top the agenda in talks in Washington on Wednesday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and new German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

The Blinken-Baerbock meeting will follow a telephone call last week between President Joe Biden and Putin, a conversation Sunday between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and a group discussion Tuesday among Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his counterparts from the five Nordic nations.

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