Separate press conferences, but a similar message in at least one respect – that is the result of the crisis meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. Because Washington and Moscow are ready for a further diplomatic exchange on the European security architecture, as the two chief diplomats said independently of each other after the talks at the Hotel President Wilson on Friday.
Blinken also reiterated in strong words the threat of the US and its allies to take tough countermeasures in the event of a Russian attack on Ukraine. 100,000 Russian soldiers are deployed at the country’s border. Lavrov reiterated on Friday that his government had no intention of attacking. “We have always called on our partners from the EU and NATO to calm down,” he scoffed. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
His administration is also ready for renewed talks between US President Joe Biden and his counterpart Vladimir Putin if both sides conclude that this is “the best way to solve things,” Lavrov assured. Biden and Putin had Talked about the Ukraine crisis in a telephone call at the end of December 2021. The two heads of state met in person in Geneva in June 2021.
According to the US Secretary of State, there is no progress on the matter, opinions have been exchanged but no negotiations have taken place. “We didn’t expect any major breakthroughs today,” Blinken said after the meeting, which he called “frank and substantial.” “But I think we’re on a clear path now in terms of understanding each other’s concerns and positions.”
The confrontation over the future of Ukraine between Russia on the one hand and the US and their partners on the other continues to smolder and still threatens to escalate militarily. Especially since Moscow is increasing the tension when it sends its own soldiers to Belarus for a joint military exercise and this week announced several naval maneuvers in which more than 10,000 soldiers are to practice in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and North Sea.
Sweden and Finland also insist on the right to join NATO
The Russian government is now expecting an American response to its demands quickly, as Lavrov explained to the journalists, deliberately calm and almost stoic. Moscow is demanding comprehensive “security guarantees”, including a written renunciation of NATO’s eastward expansion, and Ukraine should not be allowed to join the alliance either. In addition, the western alliance should withdraw all foreign soldiers from all countries that were not part of the defense alliance until 1997.
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Washington should not have much leeway in formulating its answer. Certain principles remain non-negotiable for the US. This includes, for example, NATO’s “open door policy”. Because together with the partners of NATO, the G7 countries and the EU, the US government has declared unequivocally that a freeze on NATO membership violates the right of self-determination of the nations. Even the non-NATO members Finland and Sweden have been insisting on this self-determination since Russia has denied them the right to join NATO.
Washington will submit written “ideas” to Moscow next week to resolve the crisis, the US Secretary of State announced. However, this is not a direct answer to the list of demands. Washington will come up with its own proposals. Blinken emphasized that the United States is ready to address Russian security concerns by mutual agreement. He will meet again with Lavrov after the government in Russia has received the written answer.
Blinken again called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border. “If Russia wants to convince the world that it has no aggressive intentions towards Ukraine, de-escalation and withdrawal of forces on the Ukrainian border would be a very good start,” he said.
After the Geneva meeting, both the Americans and the Europeans realized that a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis is still possible. At the same time, however, the West must be prepared for the fact that the path to this will be long and rocky. It remains to be seen whether the goal can be achieved at all.
Source From: Tagesspiegel