Best Way To Avert A Crisis Is Through Diplomacy: US Tells Russia

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Thursday in Stockholm, Sweden amid rising tensions over Ukraine. The US said the best way to avert a crisis is through diplomacy.

Blinken called on Russia to abide by the Minsk peace agreements hammered out in 2015 between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

“President Biden shared with President Putin when they met in Geneva some months ago the strong preference of the United States for a stable, predictable relationship between our countries,” the US Department of State quoted Blinken as saying in a statement.

He added that “It’s in the best interests of both of us – of our people, and actually, the entire world.”

“But, as we’ve made very clear in recent weeks, we have deep concerns about Russia’s plans for renewed aggression against Ukraine. That would move us in exactly the opposite direction, and it’s simply not in anyone’s interest,” the statement added.

Blinken furthered, “It’s a concern that is shared by many in Europe, and I think Sergey has heard that expressed over the last 24 hours here in Stockholm. We have a strong, ironclad commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

“The best way to avert a crisis is through diplomacy, and that’s what I look forward to discussing with Sergey, including, by both parties, full implementation of the Minsk agreements, with Russia pulling back its forces,” the statement added.

The United States is willing to facilitate that, but – and again, in the spirit of being clear and candid, which is the best thing to do – if Russia decides to pursue confrontation, there will be serious consequences, Blinken warned.

Blinken also raised the cases of Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, two Americans who have been “unjustly” detained for far too long in Russia. “Their release is an absolute priority for the United States, one that President Biden raises on every occasion,” Blinken added.

Speaking during the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Stockholm, Lavrov said the OSCE is designed to strengthen security cooperation on the basis of consensus of all participating states. “And today, we all – both Tony and me – have confirmed our commitment to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, and are the fundamental documents of our organization.”

“But it’s evident that we interpret these principles differently. I have no doubts that the only way out of today’s crisis, which is indeed quite tense, is actually to seek the balance of interests, and I hope this is what we are going to do today,” Lavrov was quoted in a joint statement.

He also hinted toward the principle of agreements reached by President Biden and President Putin in Geneva this year in June, which are – “which imply that despite all the differences, which are quite deep and the leaders recognize that, both Russia and the United States should stick to a responsible approach, bearing in mind how important our two states are for the global stability and security, including in the Euro-Atlantic region.”

“We have maintained consultations and communication channels on cyber security is open. There are internal problems. I’m referring to the problems that both Russian and American diplomats have been facing. So we had to create the commensurate conditions for American diplomats in Russia. But I believe this is one of the problems that can be solved very quickly, thus sending a message that we are ready to cooperate, agree upon something, as our presidents have agreed upon,” he added.

He said that Russia is interested in making steps to regulate, to settle the Ukrainian crisis, and American colleagues have said on numerous occasions that they are ready to help by establishing a dialogue channel that existed before. “We are ready for that and I would be interested in Tony’s explanations about the remarks he has delivered by stating what provisions of the Minsk agreement Russia has to fulfill. I’m looking forward to hear the explanations so that I would understand what approaches the United States will stick to while considering the Ukrainian issue.”

“We, as President Putin stated, do not want any conflicts, but if our NATO partners have stated that no one has a right to dictate to a country that would like to join NATO whether it can do or not, we can say that every country is able to define its own interests to guarantee their security,” he added.

“We can refer to the principle of indivisible security envisaged in the EU and NATO documents, which is that no one can guarantee its own security at the expense of the security of others. And NATO’s extension to (inaudible) will infringe upon our security, obviously. This is what we are going to do, but I will stay here,” he concluded.


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