A day after Washington pointed its readiness to react resolutely, including with severe sanctions, Russia attacks Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned face-to-face on Thursday his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov of the serious consequences Russia if it opts to invade Ukraine.
Blinken delivered the warning to the Russian Foreign Minister at a meeting in Stockholm at a moment of acute East-West tensions over Ukraine, telling him that the best way to avert the crisis is through diplomacy.
US State Secretary noted that both Moscow and Kyiv should fulfill their obligations in line with the 2014 Minsk peace process – designed to end the war between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces in Donbas, in the eastern part of Ukraine – underlining the US’s willingness to facilitate this process.
The 30 minutes meeting, which a senior State Department official described as “serious, sober and business-like,” was the highest-level contact between the US and Russia since June’s summit between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Blinken and Lavrov talked on the fringes of the ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), one of the few international dialogue forums to which both the US and Russia belong.
OSCE has been tasked with monitoring the respect of peace accords aimed at resolving the conflict in Donbas since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Lavrov reiterated that Russia, which is accused of backing the separatists fighting Kyiv, doesn’t want any conflict and pointed that Moscow was ready for dialogue with Kyiv.
The Kremlin expressed concern on Thursday with regard to Kyiv’s aggressive rhetoric and the increased provocative actions along the line of contact in Donbas and warned on the high probability of a new conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Lavrov used the opportunity to also accuse the OSCE of falling hostage to the bloc discipline within the framework of the EU and NATO, with no visible progress towards strengthening security based on cooperation and not on confrontation.