The senior most diplomats of the United States and Russia held a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss ongoing tensions. The US and Russian envoys met after a flurry of meetings between officials on both sides in the last week produced no breakthroughs about possible Russian incursion of Ukraine.
Talks between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today take place just 11 days after their deputies met in Geneva and agreed to preserve dialogue amid Russia’s build-up of tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border.
In today’s parley Blinken and Lavrov are expected to have a concise exchange as they determine whether diplomacy remains possible to find a solution to Ukraine problem.
They are meeting at the lakeside luxury Hotel President Wilson, named for the US leader whose decisions included intervening against the Bolshevik revolution.
“These are difficult issues we are facing, and resolving them won’t be done quickly. I don’t expect we’ll solve them in Geneva,” Blinken said in Geneva.
“But we can advance our mutual understanding”, Blinken said, and if Russia de-escalates on the ground, “that can turn us away from this crisis in the weeks ahead”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday laid out its planned agenda for the meeting: texts of two proposals by Moscow for new treaties with both the United States and NATO on security guarantees.
The State Department, meanwhile, put out three statements – two on Russian “disinformation,” including specifically on Ukraine, and another entitled “Taking Action to Expose and Disrupt Russia’s Destabilisation Campaign in Ukraine.”
Blinken, repeatedly calling out what he called Russian “disinformation” aimed at destabilising Ukraine, said on Thursday the diplomatic efforts this week meant he could represent a shared view of Western nations to Russia on Friday and press Moscow to step back.
“That unity gives us strength – a strength I might add that Russia does not and cannot match,” Blinken said.
But that unity appeared to be undermined by comments by Biden, who said on Wednesday that the West’s response may not be unified if Russia only makes a “minor incursion” into Ukraine.