A meeting in Switzerland between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart resulted in no permanent development but an agreement to continuously talk.
This is the latest progress in the chain of high-level negotiations that the Biden administration expects will forestall a brewing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
After his 1.5-hour-long one-on-one discussion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, Blinken said at a news conference that the discourse was “frank and substantive.”
“We didn’t expect any major breakthroughs to happen today, but I believe we are now on a clear path in terms of understanding each other’s concerns and each other’s positions,” Blinken then said.
The secretary of state told the media that he gave clarity to the position of the US and its allies to the Russians, which is to “stand firmly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Although Russia has persistently denied any intentions to invade, an estimated troop of 100,000 stands by near the Ukrainian borders. The Kremlin has constantly demanded that Kyiv will not be allowed to join NATO, requesting written agreements to guarantee it.
The US remains unshakeable in its stand that Ukraine be left to decide on its own whether it wants to join the alliance. NATO was formed in 1949, originally as a prop against Soviet expansion in Western Europe.
“If any Russian military forces move across Ukraine’s border, that’s a renewed invasion,” Blinken commented in an evident reference to Russia’s Crimea annexation in 2014.
Military action would “be met with swift, severe, and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies,” he further said.
The US representative also recognized that Russian annexation stimulation short of invasion, cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics, to specify, would also be dealt with a “decisive, calibrated, and again, united response.”
Yet, Blinken allowed for further discussion to tackle Russia’s “security concerns” and mentioned that he and Lavrov “also talked about the way forward.”
“I told him that following the consultations that we’ll have in the coming days with allies and partners, we anticipate that we will be able to share with Russia our concerns and ideas in more detail and in writing next week,” Blinken stated.
“And we agreed to further discussions after that. We agreed as well that further diplomatic discussions would be the preferable way forward, but again, it is really up to Russia to decide which path it will pursue.
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