U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a brief meeting in Geneva this Friday, Jan. 21, aimed at averting the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and initial reports indicate that the officials had a ‘frank’ and positive talk and reached a truce until next week.
According to DW, the German news outlet, the two diplomats met briefly at the President Wilson Hotel, where they raised whether diplomacy could still resolve the crisis.
Both said the doors were left open for continued dialogue, and Blinken described the talk as “frank and substantive,” calling it a “frank exchange of concerns and ideas.”
On the Russian side, Lavrov assured that Moscow would receive a written response to its “concrete” security demands “next week,” a promise that Blinken confirmed.
Lavrov called the talks “constructive and useful.” The Russian envoy also said his country has “never” threatened the Ukrainian people.
Following the same ambiguous style, both diplomats again accused their counterparts while making sure to try the diplomatic path.
Blinken assured that if Russia attacks Ukraine, there will be a “united, swift and stern” response and said that the situation is at a “critical point.” Still, the Russian government criticized the Biden administration for making comments that “facilitate destabilization of the situation.”
The U.S. official also called on the Kremlin to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border, which now surrounds the country on several fronts.
Lavrov, echoing state media reports during the escalation of the conflict, argued that the concentration of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border is a reaction to the advance of NATO forces.
Moscow is concerned about its security “not because of invented threats, but because of real facts that no one hides: the supply of weapons to Ukraine, the sending of hundreds of Western military instructors,” Lavrov said, referring to the British forces recently sent to Ukraine.
Possible meeting between Putin and Biden
Blinken confirmed the possibility of a meeting between the leaders of the two countries, Russia and the United States, if necessary to bring about a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
“If we conclude (and) the Russians conclude that the best way to resolve things is through a further conversation between them, we’re certainly prepared to do that,” Blinken said.
Spain jumps into the fray
On Thursday, Jan. 20, reports indicate that Spain sent warships to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea to reinforce NATO naval forces and is even considering sending warplanes to deter a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to The Hill, a bomber is already on its way, and a frigate will be sent within three or four days, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said Thursday.
“Russia cannot tell any country what to do, so NATO will protect and defend the sovereignty of any country that can or wants to join NATO,” she said, adding that Spain wants an “exclusively diplomatic response” to resolve the conflict.