Jan 21, 2022 - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

Driving the news: Blinken traveled to Geneva from meetings in Kyiv and Berlin, where he sought to reinforce the message that there will be a "swift, severe, and united response to any form of aggression by Russia directed toward Ukraine."

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in opening remarks in Geneva the meeting came at Blinken's request, but that the Russian side considered it a good opportunity for the U.S. to come up with "concrete answers to our concerns."
  • The two diplomats plan further discussions after the U.S. consults with its European allies on the written answers. Blinken said the next steps could include a summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin if progress is being made.

The big picture: Blinken said Lavrov once again assured him Russia has no intention of attacking Ukraine, but added: "We're looking at what is visible to all, and it is deeds and actions, not words, that make the difference."

  • Russia continues to amass forces on all sides of the Ukrainian border, including with significant new deployments to Belarus and additional military aid to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
  • Blinken stressed that the Biden administration will continue to support Ukraine with security assistance, but acknowledged that U.S. troops would not be deployed to defend the country from an invasion.

Go deeper: What Putin's Ukraine options look like

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