More dialogue to avoid a collision with dramatic consequences for Europe. The Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, have agreed this Friday at a meeting in Geneva to continue diplomatic talks on the crisis with Ukraine and the expansion of NATO. When Russia continues to concentrate troops on its borders with the neighboring country, Blinken promised to send in writing his “ideas” and proposals to Moscow on his demands, which require NATO not to expand towards its borders. After this, new talks are expected to de-escalate the major crisis that has raised the alert in Kiev, NATO and the EU due to fears that Moscow will initiate a new military aggression against Ukraine.
In December, Putin presented NATO and the United States with a draft treaty that includes not only the commitment that the Alliance renounce new members among the countries of the former USSR (such as Georgia and Ukraine, which received the accession proposal in 2008 , a reality however that is very far away because both countries need reforms) but also requires that NATO and Washington paralyze all military activity in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. NATO has no bases in Eastern Europe but does deploy multi-national battalions on rotation in Poland and the Baltics.
Following a 90-minute meeting with his Russian counterpart at a lakeside hotel in Geneva, Blinken stressed that there would be no talks on Ukraine – or any other sovereign state – without Ukraine. Neither will there be talk about NATO without the Atlantic Alliance, or the EU without the EU, he stressed at a press conference. “Russia has a choice, we can continue to work on mutual security and choose European security diplomacy or conflict, which would trigger massive consequences,” Blinken warned.
In a calm tone and in a separate press conference, Lavrov commented that he hoped that “emotions” about Ukraine would calm down and assured that Russia does not represent a threat to its neighboring country. “I can’t say yet whether or not we are on the right track. We will understand this when we get the American response on paper on all points of our proposals,” Lavrov said.
Russia continues to mobilize its army near the borders with Ukraine with soldiers arriving from different parts of the country, according to satellite images and also numerous videos broadcast on social networks. A deployment to which are added numerous maneuvers on its eastern flanks, in Belarus (also along the border with Ukraine), in the Caucasus and even naval, in the Black Sea but also in the Mediterranean in another display of military muscle.
Ukrainian intelligence sources estimate that Moscow has already concentrated some 106,000 soldiers with heavy and sophisticated weapons along its borders; also to tactical groups. In addition, it has also concentrated troops in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, illegally annexed in 2014.
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Diplomatic efforts continue. This Friday, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, spoke by phone about the situation. “Moscow,” Putin told him, according to the Kremlin transcript, “waits waiting for the written, concrete and detailed response promised by the negotiating partners to the preliminary documents on the provision of legal guarantees for Russia’s security.” Niinistö also spoke this week with US President Joe Biden.
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