On Jan. 21, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva to discuss the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Moscow is said to have deployed around 100,000 soldiers to the Ukrainian borders.
Russia denies that it intends to invade Ukraine. However, it has issued a list of demands that must be met by the United States, which includes guaranteeing that Ukraine will never become a member of NATO. The U.S. position is that the decision on whether to join NATO or not solely lies with Ukraine and the organization’s member states.
Prior to the talks, both individuals had commented that they do not expect any breakthroughs to occur. After the meeting, it was clear that they had failed to arrive at a resolution. According to Blinken, the meeting allowed Lavrov to have a “better understanding” of Washington’s position on the issue and vice versa. That’s precisely “why we met,” he stated.
“I made clear to Minister Lavrov that there are certain issues and fundamental principles that the United States and our partners and allies are committed to defend… That includes those that would impede the sovereign right of the Ukrainian people to write their own future. There is no trade space there. None,” Blinken said.
The Secretary of State pointed out that Russia has two choices in front of it – Moscow can either choose the path of diplomacy that will lead to “peace and security” or it can choose a path that will only result in “conflict, severe consequences, and international condemnation.” Washington and its allies in Europe are ready to meet Russia no matter which path Moscow chooses, Blinken added.
“We’ve been clear – if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine’s border, that’s a renewed invasion. It will be met with swift, severe, and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies,” Blinken said. Lavrov called on the U.S. to respond to Moscow’s list of demands which it says is necessary to ensure its security and stability of the region. Until the Kremlin receives a written response from Washington regarding its demands, Moscow won’t know if talks are on the right track, he said.
A day prior to his meeting with Lavrov, Blinken had met with ministers from Germany, France, and the UK on Jan. 20. Earlier, Blinken traveled to Ukraine in a bid to show Washington’s support for the country and its “fundamental right to exist” as an independent nation. During this visit, he accused Moscow of systematically seeking to weaken the democratic institutions of Ukraine by interfering in elections and spreading disinformation.
“The Ukrainian people chose a democratic and European path in 1991. They took to the Maidan to defend that choice in 2013, and unfortunately ever since you have faced relentless aggression from Moscow… [Russia is trying] to challenge some very basic principles that undergird the entire international system and are necessary for trying to keep peace and security — principles like one nation can’t simply change the borders of another by force,” Blinken stated.
Meanwhile, the first shipment of assistance to Ukraine from the United States arrived in Kiev on Jan. 22. The $200 million security support package includes ammunition and other things necessary for soldiers to defend their borders.“This shipment includes close to 200,000 pounds of lethal aid, including ammunition for the front line defenders of Ukraine… The shipment – and $2.7 billion USD since 2014 – demonstrates U.S. commitment to helping Ukraine bolster its defenses in the face of growing Russian aggression,” the U.S. Embassy in Kiev said in a Jan. 22 tweet