Russia sticks to its demands.. Blinken on a European tour to discuss the crisis with Moscow and warnings of the consequences of invading Ukraine
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken began a European tour that includes Ukraine and Germany, to discuss diplomatic efforts to calm the tension caused by the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, at a time when Russia reiterated the need to meet its demands to avoid any escalation, amid diplomatic moves aimed at avoiding a grinding war.
The US State Department said that Blinken will meet today, Wednesday, in Kiev, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials, to reinforce Washington’s commitment to the sovereignty of Ukraine, and to meet tomorrow, Thursday in Berlin, with German Foreign Minister Annalena Birbock, and then hold a meeting with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “NATO” (NATO). To discuss efforts to deter Russia, and the allies’ readiness to impose severe sanctions on it.
A Foreign Ministry official also said that Blinken will meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Geneva on Friday.
The US State Department had announced that Minister Blinken discussed by phone with Lavrov the results of the strategic dialogue between Moscow and Washington and the talks between Russia and NATO.
The ministry said that, during the call, Blinken stressed the importance of continuing the diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions against the backdrop of the Russian military build-up on the borders of Ukraine.
The State Department added that Blinken renewed Washington’s firm commitment to the sovereignty of Ukraine, and stressed that any discussions on European security must include NATO member states and European partners, including Ukraine.
For its part, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Lavrov assured his American counterpart the need for the United States to provide a written response to Russia’s security proposals as soon as possible.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov urged Blinken to force Kiev to comply with the Minsk agreements.
A statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Lavrov told Blinken that Moscow needed “specific responses to each individual article” of its proposals “as soon as possible,” and called on his American counterpart “to stop speculating about the imminence of alleged Russian aggression.”
Lavrov said earlier on Tuesday that there would be no further negotiations until the West provided adequate answers.
Washington toughened its rhetoric on Tuesday against Moscow, and the White House said Russia was ready for a possible attack on Ukraine that could happen “at any time”, warning that the US response would include all options.
“All options are on the table,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, warning of a “very dangerous situation.”
For his part, US President Joe Biden had a phone call with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, and a White House statement said that the two presidents discussed common concerns about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, in addition to discussing the importance of Finland’s close defense partnership with the United States and NATO to ensure security in northern Europe. .
In the same context, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Washington is ready to continue talks with Russia, but is also ready to respond strongly in the event of an invasion of Ukrainian territory.
Sullivan told Foreign Policy that Washington, Moscow, NATO and the European Union can work together to reach understandings, and that Moscow must make its own decision in this regard.
Meanwhile, CNN quoted US officials as saying that Washington is considering providing Ukraine with more weapons if the Russian president decides to invade it.
Reuters also quoted a US official as saying that the deployment of Russian military forces in Belarus raises concerns about the possible use of these forces in an invasion of Ukraine.
The British government announced that it had started supplying weapons to Ukraine in response to what it described as the escalating dangerous behavior by Russia.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had briefed the British Parliament on arms sales to Ukraine and their type, and said that a decision had been taken to provide Ukraine with light anti-armor defense systems, and to send a number of British military advisers to Kiev to train Ukrainian forces.
Wallace emphasized that British weapons were not strategic weapons, and that their goal was to help Kiev defend itself and did not pose any threat to Russia.
For his part, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance is ready for dialogue and to listen to Russia’s concerns, but it will not give up its principles regarding the accession of new countries.
Stoltenberg added that NATO supports Ukraine on a political and sovereign level, and supports the development of its defense institutions.
The German Foreign Minister arrives in Moscow from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to meet her Russian counterpart, Lavrov, and warns him of the high cost of any new aggression against Ukraine.
The German minister believes that diplomacy is the only solution to tension, and that her country will not give up its basic principles.
For his part, Lavrov stresses that his country does not threaten anyone and does not accept any demands related to the presence of its forces inside its territory.
Lavrov does not forget that there is a pressure card on the table in his meeting with the German minister, which is to stop work on the “Nord Stream 2” project.
According to Lavrov, politicizing the project will be counterproductive. Nord Stream 2 is the largest project in the world to transport gas from Russia to Germany and the rest of European countries, and it is based on transporting gas via giant pipelines in the Baltic Sea at a distance of 2,230 km.
Starting with it would marginalize Ukraine, which a pipeline to transport Russian gas through its territory, and some European countries believe that Berlin should wait and not separate what is European political and sovereign from energy-related.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said his country is ready to play any role in order to reduce tension between Russia and Ukraine.
This came in a speech on Tuesday during his participation, via video call, in a seminar by the British “Circle Foundation” on the possible repercussions of Russian-Ukrainian tension on Europe and NATO.
Kalin stressed that Turkey does not support any Russian military action against Ukraine or any conflict and war between the two countries, and stressed Ankara’s full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and social integrity.
He added that Turkey does not want a new war to break out, as the world has witnessed many wars recently, such as Iraq and Syria, calling on Russia and Ukraine to calm down.