Russia issues warning to US
Another round of Russia-US negotiations on the Ukraine crisis, on Saturday, saw Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warn his American counterpart, Antony Blinken against a “propaganda campaign” over an alleged plan by Moscow to attack Ukraine.
Both foreign and defense ministers of the two countries held phone conversations over “security issues of mutual interest,” ahead of crucial talks between the presidents of Russia and the US, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, in the evening.
According to a statement from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov stressed that “the propaganda campaign launched by the United States and its allies about ‘Russian aggression’ against Ukraine pursues provocative goals,” which, in his opinion, involved encouraging Kiev “to sabotage the Minsk agreements,” as well as “harmful attempts to resolve the ‘Donbass problem’ by force.”
The foreign minister also said the US and NATO ignored key provisions of the Russian proposals for European security, including a ban on the alliance’s eastward expansion.
“It was emphasized that these issues would be a focus point of our review of the documents received from the US and NATO, which will be brought to the attention of colleagues,” the foreign ministry said following the conversation, which was initiated by the American side.
“I spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov today to urge a diplomatic resolution to Russia’s unprovoked military build-up around Ukraine. I reiterated that further Russian aggression would be met with a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response,” Blinken said on Twitter.
I spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov today to urge a diplomatic resolution to Russia’s unprovoked military build-up around Ukraine. I reiterated that further Russian aggression would be met with a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 12, 2022
The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that its head, Sergey Shoigu, had held a phone conversation with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin. However, it did not reveal any details of the talks, saying that the ministers had discussed “security matters of mutual interest.”
The US Department of Defense also issued a brief statement, saying, “Russia’s force build-up in Crimea and around Ukraine” was discussed.
These talks, as well as the upcoming negotiations between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, come as international tensions over the supposed ‘Russian invasion of Ukraine’ – something Moscow categorically denies – are quickly rising. As NATO builds up its military presence in Eastern Europe, several countries are evacuating diplomats from the embassies in Kiev and advising expats to urgently leave Ukraine. Earlier on Saturday, Russia also announced its intention to remove some of its diplomatic personnel out of fear of “possible provocations by Kiev or third countries.”