The United States did not expect major breakthroughs from negotiations with Russia on security issues in Europe, however, in Washington, unlike the Kremlin, they do not consider the meetings held “unsuccessful”, and are ready to continue the dialogue if Moscow is ready for this. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this on Thursday in an interview with the American radio station National Public Radio (NPR).
Responding to a request to comment on the statement of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who called the talks “unsuccessful,” Blinken said that the United States did not “expect breakthroughs” during the meetings, which, according to him, “at the moment” cannot be called real negotiations.
“We shared with the Russians our deep concern about the actions they are taking not only with regard to Ukraine, but also in a broader sense. They shared their concerns with us. We have provided each other, I think, a lot of food for thought. Now we are planning… to consult carefully with our allies and partners,” Blinken said, adding that the continuation of the dialogue is possible only if the situation around Ukraine de-escalates.
The Secretary of State noted that both sides now have to “digest” the information received, adding that Washington has provided Moscow with two options: “the path of diplomacy and dialogue,” which Blinken called the “best” and “most responsible” way to resolve differences and resolve the situation in eastern Ukraine; or the path of “confrontation and aggression,” which the West is “fully prepared for.”
“If they go down this path, it will have serious consequences… I will not specify what we will do [in response], I will only say that if we are talking about sanctions, economic and financial measures, as well as the need to strengthen Ukraine in terms of defense, strengthen NATO’s defense, we plan and are going to do what we did not do before,” Blinken said, stressing that the planned reaction to possible aggression from Russia “will go far beyond what was done in 2014.”
The Secretary of State refused to assess the likelihood of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying that “President Putin has an excellent command of the art of not giving a final answer” in negotiations with rivals.
“I suspect that he is partly doing this now, trying to figure out what might work and what might not, and it may well be that he has not yet decided definitively what he is going to do. I think we have an important duty to help [Putin] form his opinion,” Blinken said.
The Secretary of State stressed that the crisis associated with the concentration of Russian forces at the Ukrainian border was created by Moscow’s hands, and as a result, the world “found itself in such a situation on the Russian initiative.” Blinken noted that over the past couple of months, the United States, its allies and partners have been able to develop “very coordinated and deliberate” ways in which the Western coalition will be able to “clearly respond to the actions taken by Russia.”
“We have assembled a very strong coalition of countries in Europe and even beyond, through the G7, to react, to influence President Putin’s calculations and the choice he will make,” Blinken said.
The Secretary of State stressed that many of the issues on which the West can agree with Moscow, for example, additional arms control measures, are “difficult things that cannot be done in an hour, a day, a week, and the Russians know about it.”
“If they decide now to withdraw [from the negotiation process], I think it will indicate that they probably never seriously considered the path of dialogue or diplomacy. In some cases, they have put forward maximalistic and impossible demands,” Blinken said. – But they also brought up for discussion other issues that can become the basis for constructive conversation and diplomacy… Now we will see if they are really serious about diplomacy and dialogue, or if all this was just a trick, and their intentions are different. But, as I have already said, we are ready for any scenario.”