US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks in Geneva on Friday. Members of the delegations also attended the meeting.
The talks lasted about an hour and a half. The final press conferences of both Lavrov and Blinken were broadcast by the Nastoyashee Vremya TV channel.
Lavrov, following the meeting, called it an interim one. He said that the American side promised to submit a written response to Russian demands for so-called security guarantees next week.
The Russian Foreign Minister confirmed that the meeting discussed the situation around Ukraine, including US concerns about a possible Russian invasion of this country. According to Lavrov, Russian officials have never threatened the “Ukrainian people”. According to him, Russia has repeatedly stated that it does not plan aggression against Ukraine.
According to Blinken, the purpose of the meeting was to understand whether Russia is ready to continue to adhere to the diplomatic path. Blinken confirmed that after consultations with allies, the United States will give Russia its written response to the requested demands. According to the Secretary of State, the United States and its allies are ready to negotiate on this issue, and said that the West also has its own proposals to Russia.
The Secretary of State noted that Russia should choose diplomacy over continued aggression against Ukraine. According to the Secretary of State, to prove that Russia is not preparing aggression it should withdraw its troops from the borders of this country, which he told Lavrov.
Statements at the beginning of the meeting
Lavrov started the meeting stating his willingness to discuss with the Secretary of State the issue of so-called security guarantees for Russia. He said he did not expect a “breakthrough” from the meeting, but hoped it would help clarify the US position.
Blinken, for his part, said the meeting was part of an effort by the US and its allies to prevent new Russian aggression against Ukraine. He reiterated that in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, Russia would meet a swift and united response from the allies. Blinken also said that he would raise the issue of US citizens who are in Russian colonies. The secretary said he does not expect all differences to be resolved in one meeting, but the search for a diplomatic solution to the conflict must continue.
The negotiations between Blinken and Lavrov were reported only this week. In recent days, the US Secretary of State visited Kiev and Berlin, where he held talks with representatives of US allies and partners.
Events preceding the meeting
Since last fall, the United States has been stating Russian troops buildup near the borders with Ukraine. In recent weeks, Western countries have spoken directly about the real threat of Russian invasion of this country.
In December last year, against this background, Russia put forward a number of demands on the United States and NATO - in particular, to refuse to accept Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, as well as to return the armed forces and military infrastructure of the Alliance in Europe to the 1997 status. Last week, talks were held between Russia and Western countries on the issue of these guarantees. Although the West has actually rejected Russia’s demands, Moscow insists on a written response. At the same time, the United States emphasizes that they see the situation around Ukraine as the main topic of negotiations, while Russia believes that their main topic is its demands.
Western countries, without promising military support to Ukraine in the event of a large-scale Russian invasion, say that if it happens, they will help Kiev with the supply of weapons, and will also impose “unprecedented” sanctions on Russia. Moscow denies plans to invade.