Defense

Blinken, Lavrov meet to discuss ‘critical moment’ amid Ukraine invasion fears

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 14, 2021. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met on Friday in Geneva in a high-stakes meeting at a “critical moment” in the tensions rising between Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine.

“We don’t expect to resolve our differences here today. But I do hope and expect that we can test whether the path of diplomacy or dialogue remains open,” Blinken told Lavrov during the meeting, The Associated Press reported. “This is a critical moment.”

In a press conference following the meeting, Blinken said the U.S. has agreed to provide, in writing next week, concerns the U.S. has and Russia has raised and ideas the U.S. has to reduce tensions. The two also agreed to continue to have conversations following the written proposal.

Blinken said a meeting between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is also on the table if it is believed that will push the situation in the right direction.

Russia has been amassing thousands of troops on the border with the former Soviet country as the international community continues to warn that tough actions will be taken against Moscow if they invade. 

Blinken said at the meeting he wants to use diplomacy to deescalate the situation but “if that proves impossible, and Russia decides to pursue aggression against Ukraine, to a united, swift and severe response.”

Military action has not been promised as a response to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Blinken and President Biden have talked about severe economic sanctions.

Lavrov said during the meeting he did not “expect a breakthrough at these negotiations either. What we expect is concrete answers to our concrete proposals,” according to the AP.

Russia wants a promise from NATO that Ukraine will not be added to the alliance and wants western allies to remove military equipment and troops from eastern Europe.

The U.S. and allies have strongly rejected those terms as Russia continues to send troops near Ukraine’s border.

However, Blinken did tell Lavrov he had “concrete ideas to address some of the concerns that you have raised, as well as the deep concerns that many of us have about Russia’s actions.”

Blinken met with other allies ahead of the meeting with Lavrov, including the president of Ukraine.

“It’s a crisis with global consequences and it requires global attention and action,” Blinken said in Berlin before his meeting with Lavrov.

–Updated at 8:12 a.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Diplomatic Relations Joe Biden meeting secretary of State Sergey Lavrov Ukraine border Vladimir Putin

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