Blinken and Lavrov in Geneva: Meeting of foreign ministers to de-escalate Ukraine conflict – Politics
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned before the meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov of the danger of an escalation in the Ukraine conflict. When asked how great he assessed the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Blinken said on Thursday evening on ZDF’s “heute journal” after a translation by the broadcaster: “It’s a real risk and it’s a high risk.”
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Blinken meets Lavrov this Friday in Geneva. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Lavrov wanted to blink in detail and go through Moscow’s demands on NATO and the US for security guarantees for Russia.
A written response from the US side with comments on the individual points of the Russian document is expected soon. Referring to the security guarantees demanded by Russia, Blinken said: “We have already made concessions. Not just in the past few weeks, but over many years. For many years, NATO has repeatedly reached out.”
He expects “no major breakthroughs” from the meeting. But it is an important moment to take stock.
“Massive consequences” announced
While the USA and its western alliances are demanding a withdrawal of the Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border, Moscow is demanding security guarantees and an end to the eastward expansion of the western military alliance NATO.
Efforts to ease the situation have been in full swing since last week, but have so far produced no tangible results. Blinken emphasized: “If a Russian soldier enters Ukraine across the border, then we are dealing with a really profound problem, because that is a very clear attack on Ukraine, whether it’s one soldier or a thousand .”
After meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Blinken announced on Twitter on Thursday evening: “We are determined to impose massive consequences and high costs on Russia if it prefers conflict to diplomacy.”
Zakharova accused the West of a campaign aimed at covering up its own targeted provocations in Ukraine. Russia is calling on Western countries to “stop the aggressive anti-Russian information campaign and to stop militarizing Ukraine and drawing it into NATO”. Zakharova criticized that the US was arming Ukraine with billions in military aid.
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The Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, is demanding that Russia sign out of the Swift payment system. “Ukrainians are therefore calling on the Ampel government to put aside all concerns and decouple Russia from Swift,” Melnyk told Funke media group newspapers.
This harsh punitive measure must “remain in the toolbox of hellish sanctions as an effective deterrent against Putin.” If banks can no longer use the international banking communication network Swift, this can have far-reaching consequences for their business.
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The institutions are then more or less excluded from international money flows. Conversely, transferring money from abroad to a country is becoming more difficult, as well. A possible exclusion of Russia from Swift is being discussed intensively as a sanction against the country in the tense Ukraine conflict.
Blinken had talks in Kiev on Wednesday and then traveled on to Berlin. There, after talks with the most important European allies, he warned of a “crisis with global consequences” if Russia invaded Ukraine.
USA heads line of NATO countries
His trip to Europe is another attempt to defuse the tense situation between Russia and the West. The US and NATO have criticized a troop deployment with around 100,000 Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine.
Moscow refers to the fact that these are its own troops on its own territory. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked the United States for its leadership in the conflict.
“The United States, along with all other NATO allies, sent a very clear message that we will in no way accept another use of the fight against Ukraine,” he told US broadcaster CNN. “And the United States is leading the fight to coordinate all NATO allies in our response to Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine.” (dpa)