The United States and Russia did not make significant progress in negotiations on the Ukraine crisis today, but are now on a “clearer path” to understanding the other side, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.
Blinken said today’s conversation with Lavrov was “honest and meaningful” and added that he had presented several ideas to Washington about increasing security and areas in which the two sides could find common ground.
“We did not expect any big moves today, but I believe we are now on a clearer path to understanding the other side’s position,” Blinken said.
He said Lavrov had reiterated that Russia had no plans to invade Ukraine, but added that the United States and its allies were not convinced.
“We see what is visible to all, deeds and actions are key, not words,” said the US Secretary of State.
Lavrov said the meeting was “constructive and useful” and added that the United States had agreed to respond in writing to Moscow next week with requests for NATO non-proliferation to Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.
Blinken announced a new meeting with Lavrov shortly after the US response to Russia’s demands was delivered.
Lavrov declined to comment on the US promise to provide a written response to Moscow’s demands next week.
– I can not say whether we are on the right track or not. “We will know that when we receive a written response from the United States to all our proposals,” Lavrov said.
Blinken said the United States would be open to a meeting between the presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden, if it was “useful and productive.”
The United States and NATO allies have repeatedly warned that Russia will face “severe consequences” in the event of an invasion, such as harsh economic sanctions but no military action.
Blinken today reiterated the warning ahead of talks with Lavrov, saying the United States and its allies were committed to diplomacy but would respond “unitedly, swiftly and sharply if that proves impossible and if Russia decides to launch aggression against Ukraine.”
Blinken and Lavrov met in a bid to ease tensions amid growing concerns that Russia could invade Ukraine.
Tensions have risen as Russia deploys about 100,000 troops and heavy weapons near the border with Ukraine. Kiev and the West fear that the build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine means that Moscow is preparing for an invasion.
While denying plans for an attack on neighboring Ukraine, Moscow has urged NATO to commit to not expanding into the country and other former Soviet republics, not to deploy weapons in those territories, and to withdraw Allied forces from Central and Eastern Europe.
Washington and its allies have resolutely rejected Moscow’s demands in last week’s talks between Russian, US and NATO officials.
The Russian Foreign Ministry today reiterated those demands as the State Department released three documents accusing Russia of trying to rebuild the former Soviet Union by intimidation and the use of force.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has ridiculed the allegations, saying they were apparently prepared by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, alluding to the famous 1984 novel by British writer George Orwell.
Lavrov said he “hopes that not everyone in the State Department worked on those materials and that there were some who worked on the substance and content” of the Russian proposals.
Russia’s foreign ministry has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning Russia’s foreign policy have been made more than once.