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Lavrov-Blinken Talks Wrap Up With Two Sides 'on Clear Path to Understanding'

© Sputnik / Russian Foreign Ministry / Go to the mediabankRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets his US counterpart Antony Blinken in Geneva, Switzerland
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets his US counterpart Antony Blinken in Geneva, Switzerland - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.01.2022
A new round of negotiations between top Russian and American officials will take place after Washington provides a written response to Moscow's security proposals.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart Antony Blinken met on Friday in Geneva in order to discuss the situation in Ukraine and progress on Russia's security proposals that were rolled out in December.

'Russia Does Not Threaten Ukrainian People'

According to Lavrov, Blinken promised that Washington would submit a written response to the proposals next week. The Russian foreign minister also noted that Moscow hopes the United States will "reduce emotions" during the security talks in order for the dialogue to be conducted more reasonably. Blinken, according to Lavrov, shared the sentiment.

"Our American colleagues once again tried to put the problems on the Russian-Ukrainian border at the forefront, tried to condition everything else on the need for so-called de-escalation", Lavrov said at a presser that followed the talks. "But we ended with an agreement that we will be provided with written answers to all our proposals next week".

The foreign minister also said that Russia has never threatened the Ukrainian people and is not planning to invade Ukraine.

"You mentioned the statement that Ukraine does not pose any threat to Russia. I would like to once again remind those who are analysing our position that Russia has nowhere and never threatened the Ukrainian people", Lavrov said, adding that Moscow calls on Washington to put pressure on Kiev to implement the Minsk agreements. "[...] I have not heard a single argument today that would substantiate the US position on what is happening on the Russian-Ukrainian border, only concerns".

The Russian diplomat told reporters that NATO sees Ukraine as its own sphere of influence, saying that Blinken reiterated the US position that countries are free to choose which alliances they want to join.

"He [Blinken] promised to explain how the US views the fulfillment of its commitment [to NATO's non-expansion]", Lavrov said.

After Washington submits its written response to the security proposals, Lavrov and Blinken may meet again in February, a source in the Russian diplomatic delegation told Sputnik.

'Severe Response From US'

Antony Blinken, in turn, described Friday's meeting as "frank" and "substantive". According to the US secretary of state, the discussion was more a "candid exchange of concerns and ideas" rather than negotiations.
During the talks, Blinken reiterated the US threats of a "severe response" if Russia moves its troops across the Ukrainian border.

"We've been clear if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine's border, it will be met with [a] swift, severe, and a united response from the US and our partners and allies", Blinken told journalists.

Despite no breakthroughs being expected from Friday's talks, Blinken said he believes the two countries are now on "a clear path to understanding".

"Based on our discussion, I believe we can carry forward this work of developing understanding and agreements together that ensure our mutual security", Blinken told reporters.

He also said that US President Joe Biden is "fully prepared" to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin if necessary. Lavrov earlier said concerning such a possibility that Putin is "always ready" for contacts with the American president.

Russia-US Security Talks

The meeting between Lavrov and Blinken comes shortly after Moscow held separate security negotiations with the US and NATO regarding the situation on the Ukrainian border.
While Russia is accused of "amassing troops" on the border, Moscow has voiced concerns about what it sees as NATO's efforts to expand eastward and establish a "zone of influence" in Ukraine.
In its security proposals rolled out in December 2021, Russia demanded that the alliance not deploy offensive weapons in the countries bordering Russia - Ukraine in particular - and not expand eastward.
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