STOCKHOLM: On December 2, in Stockholm, on the sidelines of a meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers Council, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with US Secretary of State E. Blinken on Thursday.
During the conversation, a thorough exchange of views took place on the broad international agenda, as well as on topical issues of Russian-American relations in the context of the planned contacts at the highest level.
The Russian side accentuated the desire to establish a serious, comprehensive dialogue in accordance with the agreements between Presidents Putin and .Biden, reached during the June summit in Geneva, on the basis of the principles of equality and mutual respect for interests. It was emphasized that ignoring Russia’s legitimate concerns and drawing Ukraine into the geopolitical games of the United States against the background of the deployment of NATO forces in the immediate vicinity of our borders will have the most serious consequences and will force us to take retaliatory measures to straighten the military-strategic balance. An alternative to this, as Sergey Lavrov emphasized, could be long-term security guarantees on our western borders, which should be viewed as an imperative requirement.
Particular attention was paid to the internal Ukrainian conflict. The need was emphasized for Kiev’s unconditional and full implementation of the Minsk complex, including maintaining a direct dialogue with the authorities of the LPR and DPR. In this context, it was noted that the latest initiatives to amend the domestic legislation of Ukraine directly contradict the Minsk agreements.
A “synchronization of watches” was also held on the situation around the Iranian nuclear program.
The questions of the functioning of the diplomatic missions of Russia and the United States were touched upon. It was agreed to continue expert work in this direction, taking into account, in particular, the measures proposed by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which provide for the resumption of a full-fledged diplomatic presence on a reciprocal basis and the return of Russian diplomatic property confiscated by the American authorities.
According to a written statement released by the head of the press service of the State Department, Ned Price stated that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Stockholm on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial.
Blinken addressed Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, including its military movements near Ukraine’s borders.
The Secretary reiterated the United States’ call for Russia to pull back its forces and return to a peacetime posture and to adhere to the Minsk agreements and a ceasefire in the Donbas.
He underscored that the best path forward is diplomacy in conjunction with the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, a process the United States is willing and ready to support. Should Moscow choose the path of military escalation, the Secretary made clear that the United States and our allies are prepared to impose significant costs.
The Secretary and the Foreign Minister noted the importance of continued coordination on issues in the bilateral relationship and where interests are aligned, including when it comes to blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.
The two also discussed the Caucasus, and the Secretary welcomed the resumption of direct dialogue between the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Secretary also raised the unjust detentions of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed and underscored the priority we attach to their prompt release.