US Sec. of State Blinken Meets with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Geneva, No Ukraine Breakthroughs As of Yet

This morning, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva, Switzerland over the situation at the eastern border of Ukraine. The meeting between the two top diplomats, which the New York Times described as “hastily scheduled,” is widely viewed as a last-ditch attempt to come to some sort of agreement between the two superpowers to avoid a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken met with Russian diplomats in hopes of easing tensions over potential Ukraine invasion | Just The News

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva for about an hour-and-a-half as the two diplomats attempted to bring down the tension levels around the issue of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken said the meeting occurred at a “critical moment,” though no tangible outcome was clear following the conversation. The United States and its allies remain steadfast in their rejection of Russia’s most significant demands, though Blinken told his counterpart he would present written responses to Russia’s proposals next week.

Russia, at present, has 100,000 troops lined up on the Ukrainian border creating the ongoing fear that Moscow is preparing for an invasion. Russia has repeatedly denied the accusation, but has not removed the troops.

Following the meeting, Blinken told reporters, “We didn’t expect any major breakthroughs to happen today, but I believe we are now on a clearer path to understanding each other’s positions.”

Lavrov classified the talks as “constructive and useful,” but added that he could not say “whether we are on the right track or not.”

“We will understand that when we receive the U.S. written response to all of our proposals,” he added.

Moscow is demanding that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, never be allowed to join NATO, and wants western nations to remove troops and military equipment from sections of eastern Europe. The U.S. and NATO have wholesale rejected those demands, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is well aware that they are nonstarters.

Following some muddled messaging from the White House this week, Blinken said Friday that the U.S. is committed to the diplomatic mission with Russia, but if it fails and Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to pursue a “united, swift and severe response.”

So no agreement was reached between the two diplomats, as expected. But what’s interesting is that Blinken agreed to submit a written response to Russia’s demands.

Two days ago, the New York Times reported that Blinken would not submit a written response to Russian demands:

As U.S. and Russia Prepare to Talk, Blinken Presents Hard Line

“KYIV, Ukraine — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday said that when he meets with his Russian counterpart on Friday, he would not provide the written response to Russia’s demands on Eastern European security that the Kremlin says it expects.

At the same time, Mr. Blinken warned that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was poised to strike quickly against Ukraine.

“We know that there are plans in place to increase that force even more on very short notice,” he said, “and that gives President Putin the capacity, also on very short notice, to take further aggressive action against Ukraine.”

The written response has been one of Moscow’s central requests, and the failure to provide one on Friday could frustrate Russia as Mr. Blinken sits down in Geneva with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov. The meeting may be one of the last chances for a diplomatic path to averting what U.S. officials fear is an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine.”

Over the course of two days, Blinken has apparently backtracked on his stance of not providing a written response to Russia’s demands.

Why does Russia want a written US response? For clarity.

Moscow has said repeatedly that it would not let the U.S. drag out negotiations without providing responses to Russia’s demands. Hours before Mr. Blinken spoke, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said that Russia was awaiting a written response to its proposals, according to the Tass news service. It is still possible the U.S. will provide written responses to Russia’s demands in the days after the meeting on Friday.

We know that there will not be any sort of agreement between the two sides. The US will never agree to promise that Ukraine will never be admitted to NATO, and once Russia gets that response in writing, the die will essentially be cast and a war in Ukraine will be imminent.

At least that’s the way it seems.

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