Blinken Trades Warnings With Russia’s Lavrov Over Ukraine, NATO

Blinken Trades Warnings With Russia’s Lavrov Over Ukraine, NATO

2021-12-03 03:45:54

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken mentioned on Thursday that President Biden would “doubtless” communicate straight with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “within the close to future,” as a part of a frantic diplomatic effort to go off what Western officers concern may very well be a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Blinken spoke to reporters in Stockholm on Thursday, shortly after assembly with Russia’s overseas minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, on the sidelines of an annual assembly of the Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe.

Mr. Blinken mentioned he had communicated “clearly and straight” to Mr. Lavrov American considerations about uncommon troop actions and different menacing actions by Moscow that seem to presage a Russian invasion of its neighbor, a former Soviet republic whose independence and Western ties Mr. Putin resents.

Mr. Blinken warned that the US would work with allies “to impose extreme prices and penalties on Russia if it takes additional aggressive motion towards Ukraine.” He mentioned these might embody “high-impact financial measures that we’ve shunned taking previously,” however declined to supply extra particulars.

Mr. Lavrov got here bearing his personal threats. Echoing current warnings by Mr. Putin, Mr. Lavrov mentioned that “drawing Ukraine into the geopolitical video games of the US towards the background of the deployment of NATO forces within the rapid neighborhood of our borders may have essentially the most severe penalties,” in response to a press release from the Russian International Ministry after his assembly with Mr. Blinken.

Mr. Lavrov repeated Mr. Putin’s demand for “long-term safety ensures” on Russia’s western borders, which the Russian president on Wednesday outlined as agreements that Ukraine won’t ever be part of NATO and that the alliance’s weapons methods is not going to be primarily based there. Mr. Lavrov mentioned that in any other case, Russia was ready to take “retaliatory measures to appropriate the military-strategic steadiness,” in response to the assertion.

As Russia speaks more and more of threats from NATO, Mr. Blinken has warned that Russia may fabricate a provocation to justify army motion towards Ukraine. On Thursday he advised reporters that “regardless of a large Russian disinformation marketing campaign, Ukraine under no circumstances poses a menace to Russia.”

“The one menace is that of renewed Russian aggression in the direction of Ukraine,” Mr. Blinken mentioned.

Neither Mr. Blinken nor the White Home supplied extra element on any Biden-Putin dialog. Kremlin officers have urged the likelihood for days, however Mr. Blinken’s comment was the primary clear indication from Washington that Mr. Biden was taking the concept severely.

The 2 presidents met in particular person for the primary time in June amid the same state of alarm a few potential Russian invasion of jap Ukraine, the place Russian forces have lengthy backed a pro-Moscow separatist insurgency. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 in a transfer the U.S. nonetheless doesn’t acknowledge.

Russian forces partially withdrew shortly earlier than Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin met in Geneva, main some analysts to counsel that Mr. Putin had manufactured the disaster partially to safe a gathering with the brand new American president.

Biden officers mentioned on the time that the summit’s objective was in giant measure to regain a extra steady and predictable footing with the Kremlin. However the relationship stays poisoned.

In short remarks to reporters earlier than assembly privately with Mr. Blinken, Mr. Lavrov additionally alluded to a tit-for-tat with the US involving diplomatic workers. On Wednesday, Russia ordered American diplomats who had been in Moscow for greater than three years to fly in another country by Jan. 31. The transfer got here days after Russia’s ambassador to Washington mentioned that 27 Russian diplomats and their households had been being pressured to depart the US by the top of January.

In a each day briefing on Thursday, the State Division’s deputy spokeswoman, Jalina Porter, mentioned the Russian diplomats should depart the nation beneath a coverage that limits them to three-year stays. “What’s occurring isn’t an expulsion,” she mentioned, including that new diplomats could take their place.

The U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia has dramatically lowered over the previous few years amid rising tensions between Washington and Moscow. The State Division closed its final two consulates in Russia a 12 months in the past, citing a cap on diplomatic staff imposed by Moscow after a spherical of U.S. sanctions in 2018.

Whilst he managed the disaster alongside Ukraine’s jap border, Mr. Blinken was additionally managing diplomacy associated to Iran’s nuclear program, as a brand new spherical of talks continued in Vienna with little obvious progress. The talks are aimed toward restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald J. Trump deserted in 2018.

Mr. Blinken fielded an uncommon name on Thursday from the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, who advised him that Iran was participating in “nuclear blackmail” and referred to as for “a direct cessation of negotiations” in Vienna.

Mr. Blinken downplayed the decision, saying that he and Mr. Bennett had a optimistic dialog and agreed on the objective of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

He added that Iran’s current rhetoric and steps to speed up its nuclear program “don’t give us loads of trigger for optimism,” however mentioned “it isn’t too late for Iran to reverse course.”

Anton Troianovski contributed reporting from Moscow.

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