By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The top U.S. and Russian diplomats failed to reach an agreement Friday on preventing a military conflict over Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion, but both sides pledged to continue negotiations.
With Europe closer to war in decades, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of a “swift, severe” response if Russia invades Ukraine.
He expressed concerns about Russia massing an estimated 127,000 troops near Ukraine’s border.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was still waiting for a written response to its demands for “security guarantees.”
Moscow says the U.S.-led NATO military alliance shouldn’t expand into Ukraine and place missiles there. NATO counters that it’s up to Ukraine to decide whether it wants to become a NATO member state.
Following their tense talks in Geneva, Switzerland, Blinken told Lavrov the U.S. would give Russia written responses to Moscow’s proposals next week. He suggested the two would likely meet again shortly after that — offering some hope that an invasion would be delayed for at least a few more days.
A senior U.S. security official has told Worthy News that Washington expects an invasion as early as next month.
However, “We’ve been clear – if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine’s border, that’s a renewed invasion. It will be met with swift,
severe and united response from the United States and our partners and allies,” Blinken said.
His comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden sparked anger in Ukraine when suggesting this week that a “minor” attack by
Russia might bring a weaker response from the United States and its allies.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hit back, saying, “There are no minor incursions. Just as there are no minor casualties
and little grief from the loss of loved ones.”
The White House later tried to clean up Biden’s remarks, but Friday was the first chance for Washington to convey this message face-to-face to Russia’s top diplomat.
Lavrov said the ball was in Washington’s court. He added that Moscow would see whether talks were “on the right or the wrong track” when receiving “the American response on paper” to Russia’s sweeping security demands from the United States.
Kadri Liik, the Senior Policy Fellow at the Wider Europe Program of the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), expressed concern about the talks.
“Of the three baskets of demands that Russia has made – demand for NATO to promise to stop enlargement, scale back military presence on the territory of post-1997 members, and refrain from other military presence that could threaten Russia – the U.S. is ready to discuss only the third component. It is hard to say if this will satisfy Moscow, or where the compromise could be found,” Liik told Worthy News.
“The two countries also have conceptually different views on what is at stake and how the issues should be handled. If the U.S. wants to reduce the talks to technical arms control agreements, then for Russia, it is primary to redefine the whole European security order.”
Liik explained, “In Moscow’s view, the arms control agreements should follow the logic of the newly agreed order, not substitute for it.”
The analyst believes it is crucial to follow the ongoing “most important discussions about European security that we have seen since the early 1990s.”
Liik said the outcome, “be it a comprehensive agreement as Russia wishes, a quick fix as America offers, or a descent into war – will likely shape Europe’s strategic landscape for many years to come.”
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