The second meeting of US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, took place in Stockholm. The main topics of their talks were the situation in Ukraine, the expulsion of diplomats, and the movement of weapons.
A 40-minutes meeting between Lavrov and Blinken was held in Stockholm “on the sidelines” of the OSCE ministerial meeting. Before the meeting, Sergey Lavrov said he was waiting for explanations from the US that Russia allegedly does not follow the Minsk agreements on a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and granting access to OSCE observers. Blinken, in turn, warned that “if Russia decides to continue the confrontation [in Ukraine], there will be serious consequences.”
During the talks, the US Secretary of State stressed that his country and its allies would make Russia pay a “significant price” for the decision on “military escalation.” In addition, Blinken said that Ukraine does not pose a threat to Russia and does not seek confrontation with it, despite “disinformation” from Russia.
The Russian Foreign Minister noted that the necessity of unconditional and full implementation by Kiev of the Minsk complex, including maintaining a direct dialogue with the authorities of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics was emphasized. In this context, it was stressed that the latest initiatives to change the internal legislation of Ukraine directly contradict the Minsk agreements.
Lavrov warned that “the involvement of Ukraine in the geopolitical games of the United States against the background of the deployment of NATO forces in the immediate vicinity of our borders” will force Russia to take retaliatory measures, also having mentioned that Moscow however is ready to restore dialogue with Washington over Ukraine.
“We are interested in joining efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. Our American colleagues have repeatedly said that they want to help without destroying the Normandy format by restoring a separate channel of dialogue that existed under the last administration,” the Russian Minister stated.
In particular, speaking about NATO, Lavrov touched upon the issue of advancing the alliance’s weapons in the eastern direction. The head of the department stressed that such actions of Western countries affect the interests of Russia. The parties agreed that stable predictable relations are in the interests of both Russia and the US.
“I think it’s important that we have the opportunity to talk directly and honestly, especially at this critical moment,” the US Secretary of State concluded.