The written response also has been shared with Congress, and Blinken is scheduled to brief congressional leaders on the document later Wednesday. It will not be released publicly, however, “because we think diplomacy has the best chance to succeed if we provide space for confidential talks,” Blinken said.
Blinken described President Joe Biden as “deeply involved” in producing the written response “from the get-go — reviewing various drafts of the proposal, making his own edits and, of course, blessing the final document that was delivered to Russia today.”
In addition, NATO plans to deliver its own document to Russia that “fully reinforces” the U.S. written response and outlines “ideas and concerns about collective security in Europe,” Blinken said.
Sullivan, the U.S. envoy, transferred the U.S. written response to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko in a roughly half-hour meeting, according to the Russian government-owned news agency TASS.
Earlier Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov threatened further aggression if the document did not satisfy Russia. “We won’t allow our proposals to be drowned in endless discussions,” he said, adding that if “the West continues its aggressive course, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures.”
The production of the written response represents the latest show of diplomacy after a month of intense talks meant to resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Two weeks ago, U.S. and Russian officials met in Geneva, Russia and NATO member states met in Brussels, and OSCE-participating countries met in Vienna. And last week, Blinken traveled to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, then to Berlin and finally to Geneva to meet with Lavrov.
Blinken left that final session pledging to present Russia with a written record of Washington’s concerns about Moscow’s behavior and proposals to end the security crisis sometime this week. On Wednesday, Blinken said he expected to speak with Lavrov again “in the coming days, after Moscow has had a chance to read” the U.S. document “and is ready to discuss next steps.”
Top U.S. officials have recently escalated their warnings about further Russian aggression toward Ukraine, and the United States has ordered the relatives of U.S. embassy staffers in Ukraine to leave the nation.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the security situation was “now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine,” and she reiterated on Tuesday that the invasion threat “remains imminent.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday placed roughly 8,500 troops on heightened alert to potentially deploy to Eastern Europe, with most of those troops intended to bolster the NATO Response Force in allied nations around Ukraine.
Blinken acknowledged the United States’ dual-track approach in his remarks on Wednesday, mentioning the three deliveries of U.S. defensive military assistance that arrived in Kyiv this week “carrying additional Javelin missiles and other anti-armor systems.”
“Even as we’ve been engaging in diplomacy, which is my job and responsibility, we have been very resolutely preparing for Russia to take the other path — the path of aggression,” he said.
In an exchange with a reporter about the usefulness of the U.S. written response, Blinken also conceded that Russia might not be “serious about this at all.” Still, he added, “we have an obligation to test that proposition and to pursue the diplomatic path and to leave no diplomatic stone unturned.”