US asks Russia to prove a negative
During talks on Friday in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked his counterpart to prove a negative.
The diplomat urged Moscow to move troops, stationed on its own territory, away from the Ukrainian border so as to “convince the world” it harbored “no aggressive intent” toward its neighbor.
Blinken said the other step Russia could take was to engage in dialogue and diplomacy, “which is what we did today.”
He warned Lavrov of a “united, swift, and severe response,” should Moscow “pursue aggression against Ukraine," adding that, while he had expected no breakthroughs, the two nations were “now on a clear path to understanding.”
Referring to Russia’s calls for NATO to give guarantees that Ukraine would not become part of the military alliance, Lavrov stressed that Moscow was seeking “concrete answers to our concrete proposals.” He expressed cautious optimism, as Washington has promised to provide Russia with written answers to all those points next week.
According to Lavrov, American calls for de-escalation at the Ukrainian border have, by now, turned into a mantra, much like its arguments about countries having the right to freedom of choice with respect to joining any alliance. The foreign minister said Moscow had furnished the US and NATO with multiple documents that clearly stipulate that such options cannot be exercised at the expense of other nations’ security.
The two diplomats have agreed to follow-up conversations on these matters, with a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, also potentially on the table.
Western media outlets and senior politicians alike have been claiming for months that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine. Moscow has consistently denied those allegations, dismissing them as baseless, and cited its right to move its troops within its territory as it pleases without having to account for those maneuvers to other nations. The Kremlin has also made it clear that it takes issue with the fact that some Western nations have sent weapons to Ukraine.