The Secretary of State said that the presidents of the United States and Russia will discuss the current situation directly in the near future.
The Secretary of State met with his Russian counterpart on Thursday to personally warn him of the “serious consequences” that Russia will feel in the event of an invasion of Ukraine and urge Moscow to find a diplomatic way out of the crisis. This was reported by the Reuters news agency.
Antony Blinken personally warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about this at a meeting in Stockholm, a day after he announced that Washington was ready to respond decisively, including with the help of tough sanctions, in the event of a Russian attack on a neighboring country.
“The best way to prevent a crisis is diplomacy,” Blinken told reporters before the start of talks with Lavrov, which are taking place amid acute tensions between East and West over Ukraine.
Blinken said Moscow and Kyiv must fulfill their commitments under the 2014 Minsk Peace process, which was designed to end the war between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.
Washington is ready to facilitate this, Blinken said, but “if Russia decides to continue the confrontation, it will have serious consequences.”
Lavrov told reporters that Moscow is ready for dialogue with Kyiv. “We, as stated by the President (Vladimir) Putin, we don’t want conflicts,” he said.
The diplomats spoke for about 30 minutes on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Stockholm.
“If Moscow chooses the path of military escalation, Secretary of State (Blinken) has made it clear that the United States and our allies are ready to incur significant costs,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price said.
A senior Department of State official told Reuters that Blinken and Lavrov had a “serious, sober and businesslike” meeting.
According to the source, a constructive exchange of views took place on the implementation of the existing Minsk peace agreements as a possible way out of the crisis, and intensive diplomatic communication is likely to continue in the coming days.
Answering journalists’ questions after the talks with Lavrov, Anthony Blinken stressed that Ukraine has never posed and does not pose a threat to Russia, and the United States is ready to work with both sides to find diplomatic ways out of the crisis.
The Secretary of State also officially announced that President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin “in the near future” will be able to directly discuss the current situation.
The meeting with Lavrov, according to Blinken, was “frank.” The Secretary of State directly told his Russian counterpart about what the United States sees as a problem.
“A direct, frank exchange of views took place,” the Secretary of State stressed.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Russia said it hoped for “contact” between President Vladimir Putin and President Joe Biden in the coming days, as tensions over the conflict in Ukraine have soared.
“I would like to hope that the contact between the two presidents will take place in the coming days. I must say right away that the date has not yet been agreed, there are difficulties in joining the calendars of the two leaders,” Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Agence France-Presse.
According to Ryabkov, Biden’s conversation with Putin is necessary for both sides.
“Our problems are multiplying. There is no movement on bilateral affairs, which are increasingly moving into a phase of acute crisis,” the Russian diplomat said.