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First U.S. shipment of recently directed security aid arrives in Ukraine

By Jennifer Hansler and Jeremy Herb, CNN

The first American expedition of recently directed security aid arrived in Ukraine, the US Embassy in Kiev tweeted Friday night.

The shipment “includes nearly 200,000 pounds of lethal aid, including ammunition for Ukraine’s frontline defenders,” according to the tweet.

The development comes as the United States has sought to convince Moscow to defuse the situation on the Ukrainian border, where Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Friday that any Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “welcomed with a stern and united response”.

Blinker held a 90-minute bilateral meeting In Geneva on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the latest round of diplomatic talks which the US secretary said provided a “clearer path to understanding each other’s concerns”.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin would invade Ukraine. The United States has warned it will impose severe consequences if there is an invasion – and Blinken reiterated on Friday that this meant Russian troops crossing the border.

“We have been clear. If Russian military forces cross the Ukrainian border, it is a new invasion. It will be met with a swift, stern and united response from the United States and our partners and allies,” Blinken said.

Lavrov insisted on Friday that Russia was not planning to attack.

The Department of Defense is working on a series of military options for Biden’s endorsement that could be activated to bolster the US military presence in Eastern Europe as a deterrent if Russia invades Ukraine, according to two defense officials. “We are exploring a wide range of options on how we might bolster our allies militarily,” the first official said.

These options would also likely be supported by sanctions.

The objective of any military build-up in Eastern Europe would be to deter and reassure the allies. Options could include “the movement of assets and forces already in Europe as well as assets and forces available outside of Europe,” the official said. A Russian invasion “would definitely be a trigger” for US troops and assets to move. But some forces can also be used in drills and other training scenarios.

Overall, the US military goal would be to “achieve the capability” requested by NATO allies in the region, the official said. US forces could operate, as they already do, unilaterally in Europe, but could also operate within existing NATO command structures.

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CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi and Vasco Cotovio contributed to this report.